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Alcohol, drugs and gaming

Waipiro, tarukino me te tākaro ataata

10 August 2023

UC understands that students might choose to engage in drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping, or recreational drugs during their studies. Without casting judgment, this page provides some key information so our students can make more informed decisions about alcohol, drugs, smoking, vaping, and gaming.


Some people choose to drink alcohol to help them socialise, be more confident or relaxed, or relieve social anxiety. While some can consume alcohol and not experience any long-term harm from it, others can find that drinking alcohol causes a range of negative consequences, from hangovers through to unhealthy, dangerous and/or illegal behaviours.

It’s important to know your limits, the effects that alcohol can have on you, and the support available at the University if you need it.

Possible effects of alcohol 

  • Short term: energy, talkativeness, increased confidence, blurred vision, flushed sensation, slurred speech, impaired judgment, nausea and vomiting, loss of memories and more.
  • Longer term: increased risk of developing cancer, liver and brain damage, lung inflammation, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and more.


Making safe decisions

If you choose to drink, we encourage you to do it in as safe a way as possible. We recommend all of the following:

  • Eat before you drink – drinking on a completely empty stomach can easily become a point of regret the next day
  • Know what a standard drink is
  • Keep hydrated – consume water and/or non-alcoholic drinks as you go
  • Pace yourself – the inebriating effect of alcohol can sneak up
  • Be aware of the risk of drink spiking – don’t leave your drink unattended or accept any drinks that you haven’t personally seen poured. (If your drink is spiked, it is not your fault).
  • Never drink and drive – organise sober driving if you are going out
  • Look out for your mates – the tricky thing about significant alcohol consumption is that it can impair judgment. If that happens to your friends, be there for them and help keep them safe.

Plan your transport and accommodation in advance and make sure you let someone know where you are always. Try and make sure your friends get home safely.


Hosting a party?

If you are hosting a party, register it on Good One. Good One is all about helping you have a great party without things getting hairy. Check out their Good One website for more information and tips on being a great host.

Tips and advice on hosting a party


How to know if you need help

You might need support with alcohol consumption if:

  • You drink alcohol on your own
  • You always think about alcohol
  • You spend more time/money on alcohol than you want
  • Drinking alcohol leads to behaviours or events that concern other people
  • The unpleasant effects of alcohol outweigh the pleasant effects for you

UC has support available if you or another student you know needs it. We encourage you to talk to your GP or a Student Advisor at Atawhai Ākonga | Student Care. They are approachable and will work with you for the best outcome.

The Alcohol Drug Helpline can also be contacted on 0800 787 797.

The University of Canterbury is proud to be a smoke free campus. This applies to e-cigarettes and personal vaporisers as well as tobacco. We do understand that it can be difficult to stop smoking, however.

If you are looking to quit and need some support, you can contact Quitline for free advice on 0800 778 778, or alternatively you can contact Atawhai Ākonga | Student Care to speak to one of the advisors who can provide you with some guidance.

Making safe decisions

All UC campuses are drug- and smoke-free, and UC encourages students to take care of themselves and look out for each other.

If you do choose to use drugs, we strongly encourage you to use drug checking services. This involves checking substances with a spectrometer to assess whether it contains what you thought, and whether there is anything else besides that which might be dangerous.

Know Your Stuff NZ provides free, legal and discreet drug checking services. For a list of drug checking event times, see this page.

High Alert provides alerts and notifications if dangerous impurities are detected in the local supply. You can follow them on their Instagram here


There are a number of different effects and risks associated with drug use, though these vary depending on the following factors:

  • Quantity and quality of the particular substance taken (e.g. cannabis, LSD, MDMA/ecstasy, synthetic psychoactive substances, methamphetamine)
  • The person's prior history with the substance
  • If the person has recently consumed other drugs

To learn about the effects and risks associated with specific drugs, TheLevel is a website run by the NZ Drug Foundation and has an excellent set of guides covering what to expect, how to be safer when using, comedown info, long term effects, and how to cut down.  


If you or someone you know needs support around drug use, consider talking to your GP or an advisor at Atawhai Ākonga | Student Care.

Playing computer games is a popular pastime and provides healthy brain stimulation, development of problem-solving skills and stress relief to many people. However, like many other things in life, when taken to extremes it can be problematic and negatively impact other areas of your life.

Be sure to balance time spent playing computer games with time away from the screen with friends, doing outdoor activities, exercising, and meeting study and work commitments.

Gaming becomes a health and wellbeing issue when:

  • Physical symptoms appear, such as fatigue, migraines, eye strain or poor personal hygiene
  • Emotional symptoms occur such as:
    • Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play
    • Lying to family or friends about the amount of time spent playing
    • Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming


If you or someone you know needs support around gaming, consider talking to an advisor at Atawhai Ākonga | Student Care or your GP.

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