Over three-quarters of Leeds students have taken drugs, with 30% having their first experience at University, according to a recent survey by The Gryphon.
Cannabis is the most popular drug, having been taken by almost four in five students at some point in their lives. It is the most widely-used illegal drug in Britain.
The survey also revealed that Class A drugs were the second and third most common at Leeds. Sixty per cent of respondents have taken ecstasy, also called MDMA or E, and over 40% have tried cocaine.
The survey asked over 500 students about their experience of drugs after Leeds was named the most popular institution for drug users last year.
One comment read, ‘I have an open attitude towards drugs. Since going to university, this opinion has not changed, with the Leeds music scene and party drugs that go hand in hand’.
More than half of students take drugs ‘regularly’, ‘sometimes’ or ‘occasionally’. Seventeen per cent describe themselves as a regular drug user.
One in ten students had been pressured into drug use by friends. Thirteen per cent claimed they have taken drugs to cope with stress and several told The Gryphon they had used drugs to help them study.
A student explained, ‘Cannabis has been pleasant at times but sometimes it has had bad effects so I generally avoid it. When I tried ecstasy and cocaine, both gave a really good high but you have to deal with feeling really down for a day or two after which is unpleasant’.
Last year, this newspaper reported on a BBC documentary, ‘Crazy for Party Drugs’, which exposed the city’s drug scene. Leeds is the first city in the country, outside of London, to have a clinic dedicated to helping people addicted to party drugs.
Another person who took part in the survey said, ‘Sometimes it’s nice to avoid the alcohol-based culture. Some of the most interesting and in-depth conversations I have experienced have been with people I would not otherwise have done so if it weren’t for the drug culture in Leeds’.
One student said of drugs, ‘Good while it lasted but I think it’s affected my mental health’.
Responding to the findings, a University spokesperson said, ‘We are concerned to ensure that our students understand the risks associated with taking illegal drugs. There is always more we can do and the results of this survey may provide a stimulus for further thinking about the ways in which we can maintain a safe and supportive University community’.
The Union’s Welfare Officer Freya Govus explained, ‘My primary concern remains the welfare of our students so I encourage any student who feels like they’ve been affected by drugs-use either first-hand or through exposure to a perceived ‘culture’ to seek confidential advice from the Union’s trained Advice Centre staff’.
Leeds University Union commented that the poll’s findings conflicted with previous research, although did not provide any further information.
Students can access support about drugs from talktofrank.com and the help@leeds website.
Photo courtesy of Sam Lewis