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Visit our Coping with Alcohol page if you find you are struggling with Alcohol use. You can also submit a referral form to our service to talk to our team about your alcohol use.

Coming to University and meeting new people can introduce you to new experiences. It’s important to be aware of how alcohol can affect you and how you can support yourself whilst drinking. We also have advice for students who may want to avoid alcohol. Read our tips and advice below and If you have any more questions, please contact us at wellbeing@sunderland.ac.uk.

View the Change, Grow, Live website for more support. 

Healthy units

Men and women are advised to not regularly drink more than 14 units a week. One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. Because alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, units are a way to tell how strong your drink is.

You can view DrinkAware’s Unit and Calorie counter to understand the number of units and calories you consume whilst drinking.

Type of drink

Number of alcohol units

Pint of lower-strength lager/beer/cider (568ml, ABV 3.6%)

2 units

Pint of ordinary-strength lager/beer/cider (568ml, ABV 4%)

2.3 units

Pint of higher-strength lager/beer/cider (568ml, ABV 5.2%)

3 units

Bottle of lager/beer/cider (330ml, ABV 5%)

1.7 units

Can of lager/beer/cider (500ml, ABV 5.5%)

2.8 units

Small glass of wine (125ml, ABV 13%)

1.6 units

Standard glass of wine (175ml, ABV 13%)

2.3 units

Large glass of wine (250ml, ABV 13%)

3.3 units

Alcopop (275ml, ABV 4.5%)

1.5 units

Single shot of spirits (25ml, ABV 40%)

1 unit

Double shot of spirits (50ml, ABV 40%)

2 units

Impact on mental health

Alcohol can make the symptoms of mental health conditions worse. Sometimes people use alcohol as a way to manage their symptoms, this is known as a ‘coping mechanism’. However, overuse of alcohol can lead to low mood and anxiety and whilst it may offer an immediate feeling of calm, this will fade over time and you may feel worse than before. Using alcohol in this way can mean that the underlying mental health problems aren’t addressed.

If you are taking medication you need to check the enclosed details and check with your GP as drinking alcohol with some medication can have adverse reactions. 

If you come to rely on alcohol to manage your mental health problems, that reliance can itself become a problem. Reach out and talk to someone. You can self-refer into our service here: Wellbeing Referral Form. You can also contact your GP to discuss this, find your nearest GP here.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

  • 0800 9177 650
  • help@aamail.org (email helpline)
  • alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

Signing up to Togetherall, is also a really useful support.  Togetherall have a really helpful course about Cutting down your drinking. You can do this course in your own time; it is completely free and confidential as well.  It can be helpful to do whilst you wait for your appointment with the team.

You can sign up by clicking here then selecting ‘I’m from a University or College’, or send an email to wellbeing@sunderland.ac.uk and we can support you in getting registered.

Togetherall also has a safe and supportive community that you can access anonymously, this offers peer-to-peer emotional support, help or guidance from people who may have been in the same situation as you.

Having a safe night out

1. Before you go out

  • Start the night with something to eat.
  • Make sure you have a way to get home safely by having taxi apps installed or keeping your travel money separate from our spending money
  • Ensure your phone is fully charged
  • Put ICE (in case of emergency) numbers on your phone (An ICE number is therefore the telephone number of a friend or relative who should be contacted in an emergency situation. for example ICE Mum, ICE Chris, etc. )
  • Try not to pre-load at pre-drinks. You might not notice the effects of pre-drinking until later so pace yourself and avoid getting too drunk too quickly

2. During the Night

  • If you do not feel comfortable, do not do it. Alcohol can affect your judgement.
  • Drink tends to effect women quicker and the effects last longer.
  • Avoid rounds, this may lead you to feel pressured into drinking more than you want
  • If you leave before your friends, let them know where you are going.
  • Do not leave your drink unattended.
  • You can swap alcoholic drinks with alcohol free drinks; this will help your hangover the next day.
  • When you feel good, consider stopping there. It’s easy to feel that taking or drinking more will make you feel even better, but that’s when things can start to get messy.
  • Know your limits! Avoid mixing drinks or drinking too much too quickly
  • Look after each other, if your friends get very drunk, stay with them. If they’re on the floor keep them on their side, don’t let them turn onto their back.

3. After the night out

  • Drink a pint of water before going to bed to stop your body/skin dehydrating.
  • Give your body a few drink-free days.
  • Some people experience higher levels of anxiety after drinking, drinking more will exacerbate these feelings. Instead, think about signing up to togetherall and use it
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep.

Helping my friends or family

If you think that a friend or member of your family has a drinking problem, confronting them about it can be difficult and may result in resentment and denial. It is important to avoid trying to bring the subject up in a confrontational way or while your friend is drunk. Your friend needs to come to terms with their problem themselves, but you can help by providing them with information and support in a non-confrontational way.

If they recognise that they have a problem, you can help by:

  • signposting by letting them know about the support that is available such as Alcoholics Anonymous or by submitting a wellbeing referral form to the wellbeing team.
  • try to help them understand any underlying problems which is causing them to drink excessively.
  • talking about aspects of their behaviour that you think have changed.
  • You can also assist by helping them to set themselves targets or schedules and establish new routines to help them break out of the destructive cycle of drinking.

Remember that if you are suffering as a result of a friend or family member's drinking problem, then you may need support yourself. Visit Adfam at adfam.org.uk to read about support for friends and family of people with drug or alcohol problems.

Drinking Pressure

Sometimes, you may feel pressured to drink with your friends or flatmates. It’s really good to remember that you do not need to do this. No is a complete sentence and should be enough.

You may want to address this pressure with your friends or flatmates if you feel confident enough and if it continues. It’s good to be honest and remember that if they are angry or negative towards your decision then it’s best to surround yourself with people that can support you.

You may not enjoy or want to experience nightlife and that’s ok, there’s lots to do at University that doesn’t require alcohol! Think about signing up to the Students Unions Events on offer, joining a sports club, getting a SU Buddy, volunteering or joining a society.

There is also no reason why you can’t meet your friends and drink non-alcoholic drinks alongside them. However, if you do find yourself on a night out and feel like it’s all too much there is no harm in leaving. Tell your friends you are going home and make sure you can get back safely. It’s best to do what makes you comfortable rather than what anyone else wants you to do.

Useful contacts

Visit the Frank website to find local drug treatment services.


01325 731 160

DISC are an integrated substance misuse service in Sunderland. They provide a new recovery focused model of drugs and alcohol treatment and care. DISC have a member of staff at Student Wellbeing every Wednesday afternoon that you can drop in and see or make an appointment with Kim.

Talk to Frank

FRANK helps you to find out everything you might want to know about drugs. They offer a national helpline that can be contacted 24 hours a day for free on 0800 77 66 00. They also offer live chat, SMS support and accept email queries – all through their website.

Live Life Well

If you want support making changes to your alcohol and/or drug habits you can contact Life Life Well, they are a local organisation support people make lifestyle changes and are also on campus throught the year, you can contact Live Life Well via Student Wellbeing.

Wear Recovery

Wear Recovery are a dedicated service for anyone in Sunderland experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol. They offer support such as harm reduction, abstinence programmes, medical support, and recovery support.

Click here to download their leaflet

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