Harm reduction-based taskforce to look at student drug use

A new taskforce to address student drug use has been launched by Universities UK (UUK) in partnership with Unite Students, GuildHE and Independent HE. The taskforce will make recommendations ‘firmly based on harm reduction’ and have student ‘safety and health at its heart’, it says, and will be advised by Professor Dame Carol Black alongside ACMD chair Professor Owen Bowden-Jones and recovery champion Dr Ed Day.

The taskforce will have student ‘safety and health at its heart’. Photo by Marko Milivojevic on Pixnio

The work will set out a ‘common approach’ to reducing harm and tackling supply, and produce evidence-led, sector-wide guidance in partnership with students, staff and others. The aim is to make student drug use ‘visible as a welfare and health issue’ with consequences for future employability, mental health and exploitation. The team will study current approaches and international best practice in support, education and treatment, as well as looking at policing and improving understanding of supply, demand and patterns of use.

Head of the taskforce, Prof Nic Beech

The taskforce, which is chaired by vice chancellor of Middlesex University London, Professor Nic Beech, will bring together sector agencies and the NUS alongside charities, government departments, accommodation providers and others, with a research report based on a wide-ranging student survey to be published later this year.

‘One of the key findings of my independent review was the rise in recreational drug use and associated harms among young adults,’ said Professor Dame Black. ‘The government’s ten-year drug strategy responded to this finding with a commitment to reducing drug use among young people. I am pleased to support this university sector-led initiative and particularly welcome the emphasis on better understanding student drug use and what works to address it.’

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