Waipiro, tarukino me te tākaro ataata | Alcohol, drugs & gaming

We understand that UC students may choose to engage in drinking alcohol, smoking, vaping or recreational drugs. Without placing judgment, this webpage is an impartial resource containing some key information so that students can make more informed decisions, whatever those decisions turn out to be.

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

It’s good to know your limits and the effect of alcohol on you, and that you can find support at the University if you need it.

Possible effects of alcohol include: 

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

Making safe decisions

If you choose to drink, we encourage you to do it in as safe a way as possible. For that reason, 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 (see here for more info)
  • Keep hydrated – consume water and/or non-alcoholic drinks as you go
  • Pace yourself – the inebriating effect of alcohol can sneak up on you
  • Avoid leaving your drink unattended – it increases the risk that someone may interfere with it
  • 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 impairs judgment. If that happens to your friends, be there for them and help keep them safe.

Plan transport and accommodation in advance and make sure you let someone know where you are always. 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 find yourself drinking by yourself
  • You always think about alcohol
  • You spend more time/money on alcohol than you want
  • It 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). However, we do understand that it can be difficult to stop smoking. 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

It's important to be aware that all UC campuses are drug- and smoke-free, and that UC encourages students to take care of themselves and look out for each other.

If you do choose to use drugs, it's worth knowing that Know Your Stuff NZ provides free, legal and discreet 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. 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


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. It is important 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.