Drugs & NPS

Drugs and NPS


Swansea University and Students’ Union are committed to promoting a safe and supportive environment in which to study and work. Swansea University and Students’ Union do not condone the possession, use or supply of illegal drugs at or on any premises under their control. 

The University recognises that the majority of students will not be affected by illegal drug use but where a student declares that they have a problem, their cases will be treated sympathetically and in confidence. Support will be offered through Student Services and the SU Advice Centre where possible, and referrals to external support agencies may be made where the support required is outside the expertise of those services.

What is it all about?

Each time a person chooses to use illegal drugs, they are taking a big gamble with their health and safety. You can never be sure what each drug contains. It could be a mixture of different substances (some of which can be harmful and toxic). Each batch could be a different strength, and one might not know the likely effect it will have on each individual user.

Drugs also react differently when taken with alcohol. You are unable to predict how the drug will affect you.
Taking drugs at University is also likely to harm your chance of success during your degree course. It can lead to an increase in the chance of anti-social behaviour, lack of attendance, mental health problems and financial worries.

Look at the Frank website for further information on illegal drugs and their risks.

New Psychoactive Substances (commonly referred to as ‘Legal Highs’)

What are New Psychoactive Substances?

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) is the new term for drugs which were once known as ‘Legal Highs.’ The term ‘Legal Highs’ was misleading, as not all of these drugs contained ‘legal’ substances and not all of them gave users a ‘high’.

New Psychoactive Substances are substances which are not already controlled (such as classified drugs like Class A drug Cocaine and Class B drug Cannabis). They may pose a risk to public health.

It is important to remember that since the law changed in spring 2016, all of these substances are now illegal.

The main effects of NPS’s can be described using four main categories:

  • Stimulants
  • ‘Downers’ or sedatives
  • Psychedelics or hallucinogens
  • Synthetic cannabinoids

Why Do People Take New Psychoactive Substances?

People may choose to take NPS’s over classified drugs, as they are much cheaper and are more easily accessible.

Dangers of taking NPS’

One of the main risks with using NPS drugs is that the user does not know what they are made up of. Therefore, they cannot predict the likely physical and mental effects of taking the drug. Similarly, the health service don’t know how best to respond medically if a user reacts badly to taking the drug. They won’t know what chemicals the substance contains. Little, if any research will be available of the effects and risks of taking these substances. They are likely to act in widely different ways on various individuals. Forensic testing shows that they often contain different substances to what the packaging has advertised. This means that you can’t be at all sure what you are taking.

Look at the Frank website for further information.

New Psychoactive Substances can also be highly addictive, in particular those attempting to mimic the appearance of cannabis. Don’t be fooled by the leaf like appearance of these NPS’s, commonly referred to as ‘Spice’. They are actually composed of weeds or plants, which have been sprayed with different combinations of chemicals. They will not have the same effect as cannabis on a user. The increased risk of synthetic cannabinoid use, and the need for medical attention, is up to 30% higher than the use of weed or skunk. In fact these Synthetic Cannabinoids are much, much stronger than the effects of cannabis.

Symptoms can be:

  • Feelings of light-headedness, dizziness, confusion and tiredness.
  • Feeling excited, agitated and aggressive.
  • Mood swings.
  • Anxiety and paranoia.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Memory problems and amnesia.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Hot flushes.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure, which may cause chest pains and damage your heart, even causing a heart attack.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Fingers, toes or muscles feel numb and tingly.
  • Tremors, seizures and fits.
  • NPS’s can reduce your inhibitions, which can mean you could potentially do things which you would not normally do e.g. having unprotected sex or take big risks.

See the devastating effects of spice in this video from Vice

Practical advice & tips

Practical Tips And Advice

Mixing NPS or drugs with Alcohol

New Psychoactive Substances or other illegal drugs can also have extreme and unpredictable side effects, when combined with alcohol or other medication, such as anti-depressants. This can cause users to experience a greater risk of accident, or even death. Combining these substances with alcohol can also cause a user to become uncharacteristically aggressive and/or violent.

The best advice you can receive about using synthetic substances and other illegal drugs is to not use them at all.


Where to go for further support

Swansea University Alcohol Policy 

If you are worried about your own drug habits or those of a friend, you can get confidential advice and support from the following website and organisations:

  • FRANK has a comprehensive A-Z of illegal drugs at their website. You can get information on the drug’s likely effects, risks and how the law applies to each substance.
  • For medical and health advice about drugs you can look at the NHS website.
  • Dan 24/7 runs a free helpline for advice on drugs and alcohol.

This is a free and bilingual telephone drugs helpline providing a single point of contact for anyone in Wales wanting further information or help relating to drugs or alcohol. The helpline will assist individuals, their families, carers, and support workers within the drug and alcohol field to access appropriate local and regional services.


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