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At St George’s, we agree that while there may be health risks, moderate and responsible consumption of alcohol is an ordinary part of some staff and students’ lives. As clinicians we would encourage a supportive, non-judgmental attitude to patient drug taking. However, there are significant health risks and potentially very serious consequences to practitioners being under the influence of drugs or found to be breaking the law. Below is our advice on alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol advice

How much are you drinking?

Finding out how many units of alcohol you are consuming is a good start when it comes to looking after your health.

Alcohol Concern has a helpful calculator so you can see exactly how many units you are consuming and what this could mean for your health. Calculate your alcohol units now.

Benefits of drinking less

There are many health benefits of cutting down the amount you drink, including:

  • Mental health – too much alcohol can lead to sleepless nights, stress, anxiety and memory loss – not what you want when studying for a degree!
  • Clear skin – drinking dehydrates you and deprives the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients. 

  • At less risk of developing serious illnesses – the more you drink the more likely you are to develop liver disease, some cancers, heart disease, brain damage, infertility, dementia and the list goes on. Read more on the NHS website.

Tips for cutting down on alcohol

Try these simple tips to help reduce the amount of alcohol you drink and improve your overall health.

  • Let your friends and family know so they can help you cut-down

  • Drink smaller measures of alcohol

  • Set a limit for how much you will spend on alcohol

  • Try a mocktail or lower-strength options

  • Drink a pint of water before you start drinking

  • Avoid drinking everyday

  • Don’t binge drink or pre-load. Avoid drinking lots before you go out in order to save money. Research suggests that this doesn’t save you money and it might cut your night short.

  • Download the NHS’s Drinks Tracker app to keep track of how much alcohol you’re drinking.

Drugs advice

Whatever your attitude is towards drugs, we want you to be aware of the risks. This includes risks to your health and wellbeing, as well as legal consequences.

The best way to stay safe is to avoid drugs but here are some things to consider:

  • Everyone's tolerance to drugs is different

  • Mixing substances (including alcohol) can be unpredictable and dangerous

  • You can never be sure of an illegal drug's strength or content

  • Tell your friends if you have taken drugs in case of any difficulties.

  • If you know one of your friends has taken drugs, look out for them to help keep them safe.

For more drugs related advice, visit the Talk to Frank website.

Warning: Public Health England has recently issued a warning about particularly dangerous drugs, which mimic cannabis and MDMA (ecstasy), in circulation in the region. Users have experienced life-threatening symptoms including agitation, delirium and loss of consciousness. Read the full Public Health Statement.

Legal highs

Legal or herbal highs are designed to mimic drugs (eg cocaine or cannabis) but may not have been tested for human consumption. New drugs are developed all the time but we don't know the long-term effects on the brain and body.

The new 'Psychoactive Substances Act' means that it's now illegal to supply any ‘legal highs’ or 'herbal highs' for human consumption. This includes selling or giving psychoactive substances to anyone for free, even to friends. Punishments range from a formal warning to seven years in prison.

St George’s policy

As a healthcare university, St George’s operates a zero tolerance policy towards illegal drugs (their use and/or possession). Any student found to be breaching this policy may have their registration terminated, the matter reported to professional registration bodies and the police notified.


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