An annual survey of over 6,000 students conducted by The Tab in February has revealed the drug and vaping habits of students from all over the UK. This survey found that over three-quarters of students have taken drugs while at university, including 82% of Sussex students. A further 35% admitted to being addicted to vaping. 

While the University of Sussex was the lowest out of the universities surveyed for vaping, for drug use we are 7th place nationally  – and the third highest in the South of England. The University of Manchester was top of the board with 90% of students stating that they had used drugs while at university, while the lowest was Imperial College London with 55%.

A report from 2023 noted a rise of 9% increased drug use for the North West, and a further rise of 28% for London. However, the South East has had a decrease of 9% in drug rates.   Despite this, recorded crime in Brighton is rising, including drug offences which have risen by 3%. Brighton and Hove News reports that “Latest estimates based on modelling from 2019-20 show that, compared with the South East, and with England, the proportion of the city’s resident population using opiates or crack cocaine remains significantly higher.”  

Children, young people, and vulnerable adults are often used in the supply chain in Brighton, from drug running to “Cuckooing”, a term used to describe drug dealers taking over the home of a vulnerable adult. Dealers are believed to have taken over 11 properties in Brighton between 2023-2024. 

While illegal substances are not tolerated by the University, for those that are part of the 82%, it’s important to follow harm reduction guidelines.These include:

  • Use a small amount, like a quarter of a pill, and wait an hour to see how you feel. 
  • Don’t take drugs alone, and tell someone what you’re taking.
  • Use clean needles and think about your surroundings; don’t take in an unsafe place.

The University also signposts students to national and local support services including Change Grow Live, Brighton Oasis Project, and FRANK. Please seek help if you ever feel unsafe, out of control, or unhappy about your drug usage.

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