If you or someone you know may have consumed drugs and is feeling unwell, you should speak to a member of security staff, or dial 999 immediately.

Cardiff  University Students’ Union does not condone the use of drugs, but wants to ensure that students are making informed choices, and are aware of the resources to help them stay safe. The best way to avoid harm or punishment, is not to take drugs at all.

If you choose to use drugs at university, it is important to understand the risks, where to get advice, and how to be as safe as possible.

There are many different types of drugs, and new psychoactive substances (NPS’) are being discovered all the time. For more information on which substances people consume, you can visit talk to frank.


The Law

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is the legislation that describes which substances are illegal and their legal classification. This legislation classifies drugs as;

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971




 Supply and     production


Crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone, methamphetamine (crystal meth)

Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both

Up to life in prison, an unlimited fine or both


Amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabis, codeine, ketamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones (eg mephedrone, methoxetamine)

Up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both

Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both


Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines (diazepam), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), piperazines (BZP), khat

Up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both (except anabolic steroids - it’s not an offence to possess them for personal use)

Up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both


You can also get a penalty for ‘psychoactive substances’, eg laughing gas, under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016

Psychoactive substances


Supply and production

Things that cause hallucinations, drowsiness or changes in alertness, perception of time and space, mood or empathy with others

None, unless you’re in prison

Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both

Alkyl nitrites, aka Poppers are not listed by the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. 

Further Consequences 

It is important to consider that being caught in possession of drugs can have serious legal consequences, which can prevent you from getting certain jobs.

Students who study courses that have fitness to practise requirements, (for example Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing or Medicine, and many more) may be removed from their course if found in possession or to have used any of these substances.

If you are found to be in possession of any drugs or paraphernalia, or found to be under the influence of drugs, in the Students Union night club, then you will likely receive a lifetime ban.

Safety Tips 

If you do decide to take drugs, there are some tips to help keep you and others safe;

 1) It’s best to test

When you buy drugs from a non-reputable source, it is impossible for you or the drug dealer to know what is in the drugs. You should go to the Welsh Emerging Drugs and Identification of Novel Substances website and get your drugs tested anonymously and free by post. The data they collect will also help to keep other people safe.  

2) Start low and go slow.

Drugs such as MDMA are often cut with other substances which can behave differently in the body, and can have a slower onset and higher toxicity. Just because a drug hasn't worked as quickly as before, doesn't mean it is weak. You can always take more, but you can never take drugs back out of the body. Start with a low dose, and take another low dosage later on if you need to, when you know how the drugs are affecting you.  

3) Start with a quarter, and drink plenty of water. (But not too much!).

Ecstasy pills analysed at UK festivals were found to range in MDMA content from 30mg to almost 300mg. If you are going to take a pill, start with a quarter, and sip water. Do not repeat the dosage until the affects have kicked in, and never take a whole pill or multiple pills as a single dose. Remember to take regular breaks, and you shouldn't be drinking more than about 500ml of water every 60 minutes. 

4) Look after your friends

If you are going out together, stay together. You never know when someone might start to feel unwell, so you need to stick together. Don’t let anyone wonder off.

5) Know the risks of mixing drugs

It’s never a good idea to mix any drugs or alcohol, but for some drugs this could prove fatal. Drugs that slow down the central nervous system, (depressants) such as alcohol, opiates, benzodiapines, sleeping pills etc… can prove fatal if mixed together. This may also include prescription medication, such as anti-depressants, epilepsy/anxiety medication, tranquilizers, pain-killers.

6) Be more than a friendly face in the crowd

Be nice to other people in the crowd, try and encourage people to sip water and take breaks, and if someone is in trouble, offer them some support or call for help.

7) Know where to get the right support

In an Emergency you should always dial 999. For more advice on harm reduction, see WEDINOS or The Loop. If you get in trouble with University or the Union, then you can independent advice from Student Advice, on the Third floor of the Students’ Union, or the IV lounge at the Heath. For advice on addiction services, you can contact Dan, or your Pharmacist or GP.

8) Never stop researching

Knowledge is power. Use reputable sources to build up your knowledge and stay tuned to regular drug alerts.

9) Plan ahead for safer sex

Taking drugs can decrease inhibitions, and increase desire to have sex, whilst simultaneously delaying the onset of orgasm. Consequently people   sometimes have more vigorous and longer sex, so get stronger condoms and have some lube on hand.

10) Make a smart decision

Are you sober? Is it entirely your decision? Are you with the right people in-case something goes wrong? Could you get medical support if you need it? What are the legal consequences? Has this exact bag been tested? There are so many factors when deciding whether to take drugs, if there is any doubt, then leave it out. 


Study Drugs

Some students have reported using drugs in an attempt to improve cognitive ability and to allow them to concentrate for longer periods of time. These drugs are often prescription medication that has been illegally sold on, or imported from outside of the UK.

Common drugs include Modafanil (sold under the brands of Modalert or Provigil), Adderall (Amphetamine), and Ritalin (Methyphenidate). Some of these drugs are listed under the Missuse of Drugs Act 1971, making it illegal to be in possession of them.

Although not a controlled drug listed by the Missue of Drugs Act 1971, it is still illegal to supply modafanil as it is listed in the Medicines Act 1968.  It is illegal to be in possession of both Amphetamine and Methylphenidate. 

Study drugs can have serious side affects, both in the short term and long term, and don't make you smarter. These affects include; tachycardia, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, apetite loss, headaches and skin rashes. 

The best solution to doing well at University is regular excercise, a good diet, enough sleep and working hard. 


Please stay safe and know that Student Advice is a free, non-judgmental, confidential, and independant service. We can be found on the 3rd floor of the SU or in the IV lounge at the Heath.