This article was written by King’s College London Chapter Leader Emily Jones ’19
Hi, I’m Emily and I am a second-year student at King’s College London where I am studying a Pharmacology BSc. Aside from my degree, Music is a big passion for me and I have attended many music events and festivals over the past few years, often being surrounded by heavy recreational drug use from young individuals, most of whom are unaware of harm reduction. Due to this, I have unfortunately seen a myriad of young people taking too high of a dose of a drug and falling ill. Thus, I decided to start this chapter so that we can educate young people on harm reduction to help prevent as much harm as possible, while also educating on the use of drugs and the War on Drugs we continue to face.
It’s clear that the War on Drugs within the UK has roots within racism and classism– just a quick look at news articles will show how huge cuts and reductions in services for those affected by drug addiction have been made instead of tackling these issues with support and guidance. In fact, many politicians openly admit the reason they advocate against legalisation is to avoid backlash – proving their unwillingness to address the drug crisis the UK currently faces. In King’s College London itself, the information provided is very vague and this is something we hope to address and change as part of starting this chapter. Often, the vagueness imposed by many Universities is a bid to seem harsh against drug use while also trying to ensure the wellbeing of students. This often leads to many students being discouraged from seeking any help or guidance from the University and often making the situation worse. Therefore we are hoping that SSDP will be able to inform King’s College London, alongside other Universities, of the necessity for clear drug policies for the safety of students.
Having just set up this chapter in the midst of a pandemic, we are currently quite a small group consisting of just a few like-minded students and will hopefully rapidly expand as the academic year continues. This being said, our main focus for this year is for our chapter to become well established within our University and the local community, and hopefully provide important harm reduction advice and education to incoming freshers, as well as current students. It would be great to be able to eventually obtain reagent checking kits for the Student Union too, although this may not be possible just yet.
While the focus will mainly be on harm reduction within the wider community, as we are based in London where recreational drug use is common not just in students but also in the working lives of professionals. We will also be trying to tackle University Drug Policies, aiming to help Universities understand that drug education is of the utmost importance in tackling drug use.