Arthur Sebag is co-Director of drug harm reduction and education site, Drugs and Me.

Drug harm management: Freshers week

By Arthur Sebag

In the first of his new monthly columns, medical student and co-Director of Drugs and Me Arthur Sebag discusses harm management with relation to drugs and alcohol during freshers week.

Disclaimer: This article is completely fictional and written in good faith on the basis that students in halls consume alcohol and other drugs every year across the country and often come to avoidable harm because of this. It neither condones nor demonises consumption of alcohol and other drugs, but simply aims to bring light and attempt to educate to reduce harm.

Saturday afternoon, you’ve just arrived in halls. It’s the first day of the rest of your life and anything can happen.

When I came to Glasgow, it wasn’t my first time round doing uni. Why I decided to stay in Murano as a (slightly) older student, I’m not entirely sure. I guess I wanted to make sure I met people and made good friends to live with the following year. Don’t we all? As I also found out, I wasn’t quite done with the excessive boozing, maybe I knew that all along, deep down. Now, not everyone drinks or takes drugs, but a significant proportion of uni students do, and Murano residents certainly aren’t immune.

So, follow me as I take you on a tour through a first night in halls. The first night living alone without anyone to tell you what to do. Obviously, it all goes a bit wrong, but that’s part of the fun, right?

If your parents dropped you off, they might well have taken you to big Tesco for a shop and gotten you some alcohol. Now, you’ve heard about how quickly drinking can get out of hand during freshers, so you thought ahead and went for a big ole pack of Tennent’s rather than a bottle of voddy so that you can pace yourself and maybe even remember the first night. Plus, you figure you don’t need glasses with cans.

Anyway, you’re in the kitchen, sitting on the fridge, eagerly awaiting the arrival of your first flatmate. Finally, they arrive! You help them bring their stuff in and make chit chat with their parents until they find it in themselves to head off and leave their fresh-faced first born in this bloodbath.

The other flatmates slowly trickle in, apart from that one that never shows up. As you wait for them, you start cracking some tins open with your newfound crew. Initially, it’s just a wee bev as you go through the inevitable checklist of hi-what’s-your-name-where-you-from-what-course-you-on. Soon, the chat dries up and someone suggests a drinking game. It starts off gentle with Never have I ever, which could have gotten messy quite quick but thankfully everyone is too nervous to come up with good questions. You quickly realise that Ring of fire doesn’t require too much talking, so you run to your room and get that pack of giffgaff cards from the freshers pack you got when you picked up your flat keys. As you rifle through you eye up the pot noodle inside and realise that you haven’t really had any dinner. When you get back to the kitchen, pot noodle in hand, you see a round of vodka shots on the table. You have yours with everyone else, your throat burning as you do your best to keep a straight face. The pot noodle provides a welcome excuse to avoid the second shot that’s almost instantaneously shoved into your face.

As you chow down on your food, the game gets started. You’re a bit distracted as you eat so you get done in a few times by the thumb master, but you can feel the protective effect of that delicious fatty soup inside your stomach. Jamie doesn’t look too good though; he’s been pouring himself some pretty hefty vodka cokes, and ever since those shots he’s gone pretty silent. Ah, wait no, there he goes: his head slumps onto the table and he pukes all over the floor (and your shoes). Who’d’ve thought the chunder chart would get its first strike so fast? Despite his recriminations, he gets put to bed in the recovery position with a big glass of water and his bin beside his face. Everyone is gagging to leave the flat, but you manage to convince the others to stay with him for a wee while to make sure he’s okay.

Finally, out in the open. There’s so much fun being had you can smell it in the air. Music is blaring from every other kitchen window; your head is spinning from all the possibilities. You spy a big group of people smoking outside one of the buildings in the distance and decide to see what the craic is. Claire starts rolling a cig on the way there and asks for a lighter from one of the guys outside. You all start chatting with him and his group. Once Claire’s finished her cig the flat heads up into the gaff but you’re pretty deep into a conversation about how Keir Starmer is ruining labour and don’t even notice.

The guy you’re talking to suddenly lights a pretty long looking cigarette and asks you if you want a toke. Eventually your brain gets into gear and you realise that he’s offering you a joint. Excited, you have a massive drag, only to explode into a coughing fit. Thankfully, he’s nice about it. After you recover, you giddily have a few more tokes. You’re getting pretty fried and having a good time but soon you realise that you’re starting to feel a bit funny. Your head starts spinning and you get a bit woozy. You start feeling pretty nauseous and stumble off. You’re not sure what’s happening and go sit down for a minute. Pretty soon you’re emptying your guts out on to the pavement. You stay there for what seems like an eternity, not able to get up. Eventually someone comes to check on you. You tell them you’re alright, you just need a minute. Another eternity passes and you start to feel able to get up. Maybe it’s time to head to bed you tell yourself. You stumble back home, somehow manage to check up on Jamie, who’s gently snoring away in his bed, and proceed to collapse into your bed.

The following morning, your head thumping, you think back to the previous night and reflect. That was brilliant but I’m positively shattered, and there’s a whole week ahead. How can I take care of myself when I’m drinking alcohol or taking drugs? You can learn more about alcohol and cannabis as well as check how different drugs interact on the Drugs and Me website or you can follow the page on Instagram.

To hear more on these issues, you can listen to Arthur’s show on Subcity Radio on Sunday 18th 1-2PM. Send your questions on instagram or twitter and tune in to to learn how to make safer and smarter choices when taking alcohol or other drugs.


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