It’s the time of year when students enter university and endure their first year. It’s a first year that will often involve leaving home for the first time and doing things like cooking, cleaning and day-to-day living on your own. That means making your own life choices.

And at university, particularly in the first year, those life choices can change the rest of your life. When it comes to alcohol and drugs that’s certainly the case and you’ll be faced with a number of decisions to make, quite early on, about just how much you’re going to experiment with them.

Taking drugs at university can completely change your life and the direction it takes. Visit any rehabilitation centres in the UK and you’ll find a significant portion of those people getting treatment will highlight university days as the period of time they became hooked on the likes of cocaine, weed or amphetamines. That can not only affect your studies, but relationships, friendships and plenty more throughout your life.

So, how do you navigate your first year of university drug free?

Make friends with like-minded people

At university you’ll need to make brand new friends, especially if you have moved quite far away from home. All your life your parents will have told you not to get in with the wrong crowd, and this is the time to take that advice.

Make friends who are like-minded and don’t necessarily have interests in drugs, but rather the things you’re into and passionate about. Then those subjects can be the springboard of your relationships.

Join a club or take up a hobby

A good way to find those friends is by joining a club or taking up a hobby. Whether it be learning a language or enjoying a sport, this will take up a part of your time when many others are partying, taking drugs and bingeing on alcohol.

You’ll even find sober groups on university campuses these days, so if you really are actively looking to stay completely away from drugs or alcohol, then these are good for you.

Learn to say no

Perhaps the most important thing is learning to say no. Be comfortable with the word and don’t fall into the trap of peer pressure. If you do want to head to parties and enjoy that aspect of university life, then being able to say no when a substance is offered to you will come in mightily handy. It’s not uncool to say no, it’s what you want and others should respect that.