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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Drugs and Alcohol Abuse

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Drugs and Alcohol Abuse


Current Version Adopted by Council: March 2014

Review Date: October 2019

Committee Ownership: Academic Policy



All members of the College are reminded that it can be dangerous to take any drugs other than under medical direction.

Illegal Drugs

The Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) covers three categories of drugs:

  • Class A Drugs (This category includes LSD, ecstasy, heroin and cocaine);
  • Class B Drugs (This category includes amphetamines, barbiturates and other weaker opiates, ketamine and cannabis);
  • Class C Drugs (This category includes a number of other weaker sedatives and stimulants).

The unauthorised possession, use and supply of these drugs are criminal offences: possession of a Class A drug currently carries a sentence of up to seven years imprisonment, while supplying or producing drugs in this category carry a sentence of up to life imprisonment.

Possession, use and supply are regarded as very serious matters by the College, and any student involved may be sent out of residence. This applies particularly to any student found to be using, dealing or in possession of any Class A Drug. It also applies to any student found to be dealing or repeatedly in possession of any of the Classes of Drugs above. This approach is in line with the current policy of the Police. The College's policy is also to co-operate fully with the Police in any investigation. Students should also be aware that if the College were knowingly to permit drug offences to take place on its premises, it would itself be liable under the Act.
At the same time, the College wishes to offer all possible support to students seeking medical or counselling help regarding drug taking. Those aware of being at risk of drug or other substance abuse are encouraged to seek advice from the College Nurse, Tutors, GPs or the University Counselling Service. The Welfare Officers of CUSU andthe Graduate Union may also be able to offer advice, and the CUSU -produced Cambridge Guide (available online) contains a list of specialist confidential agencies to which students may go for help, such as The Bridge Project Drug Advice Centre, 154 Mill Road, Cambridge CB1 3LP (tel. 214614). Additional information can be found online at

Any student concerned about another student's dependence on drugs should encourage her to seek advice from one of the sources listed above.
Any member of the College concerned about illegal drug use should refer the matter to the Senior Tutor, or to any Tutor.

Psychoactive Substances

Changes to the law in 2016 mean that it is illegal to sell or give psycho-active substances to anyone psychoactive drugs (previously sometimes referred to as 'legal highs').

Students are encouraged to seek help form the sources cited above if they are concerned about their own, or someone else's, use of psychoactive substances.


There are very considerable social pressures and numerous opportunities in Cambridge to drink too much. Drinking to excess is dangerous: it may contribute to serious accidents, particularly traffic accidents, and to long term problems with physical health, as well as to psychological problems.

It is particularly important not just to drink sensibly yourself, but to avoid encouraging other students to drink to excess. Encouraging other students to drink to excess puts their safety, as well as their health, at risk.

As in the case of drugs above, any student worried about their or their friends' drinking is encouraged to talk to the College Nurse, a GP, Tutor or the Counselling Service, or to Inclusion, which provides confidential counselling, education and support for  those with alcohol problems, their friends or families.