Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you. Addiction is most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and nicotine, but it's possible to be addicted to just about anything, including work, internet and solvents (Source: NHS)

Substance addiction

Substance addiction is when a person engages in the use of a substance for which the rewarding effects provide a strong incentive for repeated use despite damaging consequences.

A person that has developed an addiction may not be aware that their use of a substance is causing problems for themselves and others. This is because addiction affects the brain’s executive (controlling) functions. Over time, the pursuit of the effects granted by a substance may dominate a person’s activities.

An array of substances that fit this description exist in universities today. While common party drugs like ecstasy, cocaine and ketamine are often seen as the most damaging, the prevalence of the use of alcohol, cigarettes and weed are often seen as ‘part of the experience’ of university. The addictive potential of these latter substances is mostly understated and it is important to be aware of the consequences that heavy abuse of these can bring about. Especially in first year of university, the chance of coming into contact with all these substances is very high. For many of us it is the first time that we are living away from home, without someone to look after us. We want to try out new things and often just tag along with what others are doing. University can be overwhelming and having social connections is really important for us. It is easy to compromise our own wellbeing in order to fit in.
After all, we mostly see these experiences as something that is fun - a natural part of life at this stage in our development. However, we are often unaware of how quickly we can get bound to all these different kinds of substances via addiction.

Internet and technology addiction

Internet addiction has received an increasing amount of interest in previous years. While it is not recognised formally as a form of addiction, the overuse of digital media can impact our wellbeing significantly.
Social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are becoming an increasingly important part of our lives in respects to how we communicate. There is a large amount of research linking the overuse of such mediums to negative life outcomes such as anxiety and depression. Using these technologies can lead us to constantly compare ourselves to others, as well as distance us in social situations. It is important for us to be aware that the use of technologies can be harmful.

Net Addiction provides a checklist of 8 signs that you may be suffering from internet addiction. It may be worth going through these to explore your experiences of using the Internet and technology


Steps for support

If you feel as if your use of substances or the internet is getting out of control and is damaging you then take a look at our top tips / steps for support. These steps may also apply for when you are having problems with other forms of addiction such as gambling, over-working and over-exercising.

  1. Familiar support - Although it can be daunting, look for support from those closest to you. Whether it is your best friends, siblings or parents, let those that you trust know that you think you may have an issue, and work together on a solution. It can be difficult to manage the prospect of facing an addiction by yourself and it is important to be aware that there will always be people that are willing to help. Sometimes we can feel as if we will be judged by our family for having an addiction and it can take a lot of courage to speak up about it. It is important to remember that they love you and want the best for you.
  2. Drop-in at CaPS – During the week from Monday to Friday the Counselling and Psychological Services on 67 Southpark Avenue offers drop-in consultations that are bookable online. These 50 minute meetings with a trained counsellor may help you in making sense of your experience and pave the way for further support.
  3. Counselling – after having made the start towards getting help, it may be worth seeking professional guidance over a longer time frame. CaPS offer counselling that run over six sessions. It is not a means by which the counsellor provides a solution, but is focused on self-exploration and gaining an understanding of the situation you are in. With this kind of support, it can become easier to manage addiction objectively with less anxiety and tension. Initial consultations can be booked online.
  4. Peer support – if you would rather speak to a fellow student about your situation, peer support schemes are available for you to access across the college of social sciences. Peer supporters offer a friendly, confidential and supportive environment in which you are able to voice a situation without having to fear judgement. It can be helpful to talk to somebody who is a student just like you. Peer supporters can be found on their respective school’s facebook pages and by their purple hoodies. Just approach them – they won’t bite!
  5. Academic adviser / Adviser of studies – If you feel as if your situation is affecting your studies, it may be worth talking to your adviser of studies to work towards a solution. This could include steps towards consideration from your lecturers and course convenors. Visit your MyCampus student centre to get in touch with your adviser of studies.

Useful resources and helpful information

  • The University of Glasgow’s senate office provides policies on drug use and conduct within its statement of alcohol, drugs and substance misuse.
  • FRANK has a website aimed at providing informed advice on substances. It includes a list of all drugs and their effects, as well as opinions and insights from individuals using the drugs. They also provide a live chat line daily from 2PM to 6PM.
  • The NHS has a concise guide on how to get help if you believe you are suffering from substance addiction.
  • ProjectKnow is an informative platform offering advice on the steps involved in getting clean and staying sober.
  • The virtual addiction platform offers various advice on problems associated with internet addiction. The topics covered range from internet and smart phone addiction, to video games and pornography issues.
  • Tedx provides an array of talks focused at informing the public on issues surrounding various forms of addiction:

Judson Brewer – A simple way to break a bad habit
Johann Hari – Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong
Adam Alter – Why our screens make us less happy

Self-help apps

Quit that! – Habit tracker Free from ads, keep track of your habit changes and your progress towards quitting.
Nomo – sobriety clocks Keep on track and motivated with your progress towards sobriety. Reviews show that it can be a valuable tool in recovery.
Moment – screen time tracker Keep track of the amount of time spent on your various screens. Useful for putting things into perspective!
Forest – stay focused The forest app is useful for when you are trying to spend less time using social media. Plant virtual trees while you stay on the application.

Contact information

Internal UofG services

The Students’ Representative Council – Advice Centre
John McIntyre Building, University Avenue Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141 330 5360

Counselling and Psychological Services
67 Southpark Avenue Glasgow G12 8LE
Tel: 0141 330 4528

Glasgow University Nightline
Nightline is a confidential telephone support and information service run for students, by trained student volunteers run by the Glasgow University SRC. Available every night of term from 7pm till 7am contact them on
+44 (0) 141 334 9516.

Peer Support
Peer support can best be reached over the respective school’s peer support group pages. Check for their weekly drop-in sessions during term time or approach one of the peer supporters in their purple hoodies.

External organisations

NHS 24
Tel: 08454 242424

Glasgow City Council
Tel: 0141 420 6969
Find your help team here

Turning Point Scotland
54 Govan Road
G51 1JL
Tel: 0141 427 8200

Alcoholics Anonymous
50 Wellington Street
G2 6HU
Tel: 0141 226 2214

Scottish Recovery Consortium
A recovery-orientated charity that exists to build and promote recovery from addictions in Scotland using means and messages that are consistent with the values and practices of recovery from addictions.
2/1 30 Bell Street, G1 1LG
Tel: 0141 552 1355