You're away from home for the first time - you can stay out as late as you want, do whatever you want. You're free – and it's fun.
The last thing you want is for a nasty incident to spoil your new-found freedom. Who wants a drunken university night out ending with lost phones, purses, wallets, or worse a fight or even a visit to A&E.
Universities are really well geared up to look after their students. Your Student Union will have a Welfare Officer; there'll be on-campus nurses and doctors and there's lots of free advice available to help keep you safe.
But to be really safe, students also need to take responsibility for themselves and their mates. So on a night out, there are just a few really easy steps you can take to make sure the night goes off without incident.
Know your limits
The UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines (of not drinking more than 14 units a week) are in place to help protect you and keep the risk of long and short-term harms from drinking alcohol low. The more you drink, the less you will be able to spot dangerous situations or do something risky.
Stick to them and you are less likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning or be in a position to help a friend who has drunk too much.
Don’t drink and drown
Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble.
Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) say a quarter of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream. The RLSS have a dedicated Don’t Drink and Drown campaign to try and reduce the high number of university students who drown after drinking.
Alcohol numbs the senses, particularly sight, sound and touch, making swimming very difficult. So, even if you are tempted to be reckless, please act responsibly near water especially after drinking alcohol.
Eat before you drink
Eating before you go out and drinking plenty of water will also help you not to get too drunk. There’s no shame in having a soft drink or water when you’re in the pub. You’ll be much better company if you’re sober enough to enjoy your night out. No-one wants to go for a drink with someone who gets too messy.
Our Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app is free to download and will help you keep an eye on how many units and calories you’re drinking as well as the money you spend. Handy when you’re trying to make your student loan last the term.
Watch your drink
Drinks spiked with alcohol or drugs can make you vulnerable. It can be a scary experience and many people don’t report the incidence because they simply don’t remember what happened.
The symptoms of drink spiking vary on the person or the substance(s) used. You may not notice a difference to the taste of your drink and may simply feel sick or drowsy. If you or your friend suspect you’ve had your drink spiked tell a bouncer or bar staff and call an ambulance if it deteriorates.
You can use a bottle stopper or a testing kit. An easier way is to get into the habit of not leaving your drink unattended when you go to the toilet or to dance. Drink within the guidelines (and your own limits) and you’ll be in the best position to keep you and your friends safe.
If you suspect you’ve been assaulted try to tell someone you trust. You can go to the Police, local GP or hospital. If you don’t feel able to straight away you can call the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre on 0808 802 9999 (12 – 2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day).
You wouldn’t do it sober
Almost a third of young women and 10% of young men have experienced inappropriate touching on a night out.
Some people think that it’s OK to grab and grope strangers on a night out after a few drinks. But, there are limits, even when you’re drunk. If you wouldn’t do it when you’re sober, you shouldn’t do it when you’re drunk.
Learn more about our #GropeFreeNights campaign.
University is an exciting time of greater responsibility. You’ll have experiences you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Know your limits and drink within them and you’ll be doing all you can to make your University days the most enjoyable of your life.