Characteristics and correlates of drug use and misuse among university students in Wales: A survey of seven universities

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Over the last ten years, there has been a worldwide expansion of research on drug use among university students. However, this trend has been less noticeable in the United Kingdom (UK). The aim of the current study is to add to the existing research base by investigating some of the characteristics and correlates of drug use among university students in the UK.

Seven of the nine universities in Wales collaborated in a national survey of drug use among students during the academic year 2015-2016. The online questionnaire was identical for each university and covered a range of topics including: tobacco and e-cigarette use, traditional drug use, use of new psychoactive substances and illicit use of prescription drugs.

Results: All students from seven universities in Wales were individually emailed an online questionnaire. In total, 7,855 students returned the questionnaire. The most commonly used drugs, after alcohol and cigarettes, were cannabis, ecstasy, nitrous oxide and powder cocaine. There was significant variation across universities in the prevalence of drug use.

Several prevention and treatment programmes have been implemented by universities in the United States (US) to reduce drug use among students. These include university-based education and information programmes, social norm approaches, and brief motivational interventions (Perkins, 2002; Dennhardt, et al. 2013). Such programmes should be trialled in UK universities to test their effectiveness based on rigorous methods of evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number1
Early online date29 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • university students
  • drug misuse
  • new psychoactive substances
  • presccription drugs
  • Higher Education Alcohol and Drug Survey


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