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The NHS estimates that around 9% of adult men and 4% of adult women in the UK show signs of alcohol dependence at some stage. Whilst many students drink alcohol without developing alcohol dependence, evidence from a number of sources suggests that student alcohol consumption regularly exceeds recommended health limits.

Alcohol abuse can negatively impact your physical health and psychological wellbeing. It may also affect your academic performance and attainment, the residential, social and recreational experiences of fellow students, and in some circumstances damage the Collegiate University’s reputation. 

A survey of Cambridge students carried out in 2016 indicated that small but significant pockets of the student population drink to self-medicate or alter mood and some already have an established alcohol dependency when they arrive at University. 

If you are worried about your levels of alcohol consumption, take the Drink Aware self-assessment to find out whether your drinking levels and behaviours are likely to be harmful.

You can also watch this film to see if you have any of the signs of alcohol dependency:

You can seek help in a number of different ways, including speaking to your GP, making a self-referral to the UCS or visiting their page with links to resources, speaking to your College nurse or approaching your Tutor.

Other sources of support can be found here:

In an emergency: Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone has consumed toxic levels of alcohol over a short period of time. In the most severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to coma, brain damage and death.

The signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • confusion
  • severely slurred speech
  • loss of co-ordination
  • vomiting
  • irregular or slow breathing
  • hypothermia (pale or blue-tinged skin caused by low body temperature)
  • stupor (being conscious but unresponsive)
  • passing out and being unconscious

When to seek medical help

If you suspect a fellow student may have alcohol poisoning and they are in College accommodation, contact the Porters’ Lodge immediately for help. If they are not in College, dial 999 immediately to request an ambulance. While you're waiting:

  • try to keep them sitting up and awake
  • give them water if they can drink it
  • if they've passed out, lie them on their side in the recovery position and check they're breathing properly
  • keep them warm
  • stay with them and monitor their symptoms

Never leave a person alone to 'sleep it off'. The level of alcohol in a person's blood can continue to rise for up to 30-40 minutes after their last drink. This can cause their symptoms to suddenly become much more severe. You also shouldn't give them coffee or any more alcohol, put them under a cold shower or walk them around. These won't help someone 'sober up' and may even be dangerous.

To spot the signs of alcohol poisoning and when to seek help:

Concern for a friend

If you’re worried about a friend’s drinking:

See also Moderate alcohol intake, Drink spiking