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Student life and alcohol

How much do you spend on alcohol per year? How many cheeseburgers did you drink last month? Did you know you could be over the drink/drive limit for days after a night’s drinking?

Alcohol consumption has increased in Northern Ireland over the last two decades, particularly among younger adults. Recent UK studies suggest students are even more likely to drink than the general population.

When enjoyed in moderation, alcohol needn’t be a problem, but taken to excess, it can impact on your health, relationships, studies, future career, the quality of life of your neighbours, and reputation of students and the university.

Alcohol has been consumed by the vast majority of students who are investigated under Queen's Conduct Regulations. In addition, research has linked alcohol misuse by students with poor academic performance, personal injuries and sexual assault.

Ever thought about how much you drink? 

Queen’s, in consultation with the Students’ Union, has introduced e-PUB, the new, confidential self-assessment that provides you with accurate, detailed and personalised feedback on your use of alcohol. 

You will receive feedback based on your answers, which will be completely confidential.  There is no way for the University or Students’ Union to see what you’ve said.  Try e-PUB here: http://go.qub.ac.uk/e-pubqub

Make a note of your e-PUB id number so you can take the questionnaire again at a later date and compare your results.

Be sure to verify your completion of e-PUB with your name and email address.  Your e-PUB data is NOT attached to your verification.

Staying Safe

Going out for a night out can be great craic. But, drinking alcohol can make you more vulnerable to accidents, crime and risk taking. Here are some things you can do to keep yourself and your friends safe when you are drinking.

Drink spiking

According to a recent survey of Belfast students, 25% said they had had their drink spiked.

  • If you start to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, get help immediately.
  • Never leave your drink unattended and keep an eye on your friends’ drinks
  • Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know
  • Consider sticking to bottled drinks and avoiding punch bowls or jugs of cocktails
  • If you think your drink has been tampered with, don’t drink it – tell a trusted friend or relative immediately

Getting Home Safe

  • Don’t give out your address to someone you’ve just met, or go home alone with them
  • Before going out, let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to be home
  • If possible, make plans for your journey home e.g. book a taxi, arrange a lift, designate a driver, check out the public transport options.
  • Don’t drive if you are over the limit or take a lift from someone else who is.
  • If you have had a drink and are planning to drive then give yourself at least an hour for every half pint you’ve had.
  • Avoid taking expensive equipment with you or anything that could be a target for thievesKeep your keys and phone somewhere safe.
  • Where possible, travel home with friends
  • If you have to travel separately, text each other once you get home.

Safe Sex

Drinking alcohol lowers your inhibitions and affects your judgement. This may make you less likely to use a condom, which increases your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia, HIV or hepatitis.

It can also lead to an unplanned pregnancy.

Free advice and contraception is available from Brook (028 9032 8866) and from Queen’s Students’ Union Welfare Officer,

Chloe Patterson, on su.vpwelfare@qub.ac.uk.

Don’t Play with Fire!

In Northern Ireland, impairment due to alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs is a factor in 80% of fatal house fires.

  • Avoid cooking or lighting fires when drunk, and take care with candles and cigarettes.
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms installed in your accommodation, test regularly and don’t ever cover them up.
  • What may seem a harmless bit of fun, such as letting off a fire extinguisher, can lead to the loss of life.

If you are in University Accommodation, you can be fined up to £500 if you cover or tamper with fire safety equipment.

Preventing Choking

If someone passes out after drinking alcohol (but is still breathing normally), you should put them on their side (in the recovery position) to reduce the chance of them choking on their own vomit.

Also, try to make sure someone is with them – don’t leave them on their own to sleep it off.

 Alcohol Poisoning

The signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include: confusion, vomiting, seizures (fits), slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute), cold, clammy, pale-bluish skin caused by a dangerous drop in body temperature (hypothermia). In severe cases, alcohol poisoning can cause unconsciousness, coma and death.

If you suspect alcohol poisoning, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance. Never leave a person to ‘sleep it off’.

If someone is unconscious, but breathing normally, put them into the recovery position.

Recovery Position

To place someone in the recovery position:

  • Kneel on the floor on one side of the person
  • Place the arm nearest you at a right angle to their body with their hand upwards towards the head
  • Tuck their other hand under the side of their head, so that the back of their hand is touching their cheek
  • Bend the knee farthest from you to a right angle
  • Roll the person onto their side carefully by pulling on the bent knee
  • The top arm should be supporting the head and the bottom arm will stop you rolling them too far
  • Open their airway by gently tilting their head back and lifting their chin, and check that nothing is blocking their airway
  • Stay with the person and monitor their breathing and pulse continuously until help arrives
  • Turn the person onto their other side after 30 minutes unless they have injuries that prevent you from doing so.

For further information, go to http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Accidents-and-first-aid/pages/the-recovery-position.aspx 

Alcohol Education Initiative

In 2014-15, 140 students successfully completed an Alcohol Education programme, which was developed by the University’s Public Engagement Unit in partnership with TTC 2000. 

The Alcohol Education Initiative is for students who have accepted that alcohol was a factor in a disciplinary offence they have committed. 

It was developed in consultation with the Students’ Union to provide an opportunity to learn about, and consider, the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, in recognition of the fact that alcohol is a factor in the overwhelming majority of disciplinary cases. 

The vast majority of students who complete the programme don’t reoffend.

Last year, 65% of participants said they would change their drinking habits after completing the AEI, with most saying they will drink less frequently and in smaller amounts, and be more aware of what they are drinking.  Other comments include:

“Insightful into how much damage alcohol can cause to the body.”

“Thank you for giving me this option – I will be going away with well needed information.”

“Content was relevant. Facilitator was excellent.”

“I will take more care when drinking.”

“Makes you think twice about how much alcohol you should take over one night.”

“Be smart about every aspect of your life, health, who you live with”.