Jessamy Brooke


Understanding student drug use: A pilot study

PhD summary

This PhD will look at the use of drugs in the student population. The number of students entering higher education is growing. There are 2.32 million students studying in Higher Education in the UK.  Drugs, whether recreationally or for study purposes have been linked with mental health issues and physical health problems.

Currently, drug use among students is underestimated, and the effects misunderstood.  Small scale and secondary data analysis suggest students use more drugs than non-students. This disparity may suggest that students are a distinct population within the general population, that we need to understand better. 

Data around drug use is an area that is recognized in the 2017 UK Drug strategy as needing further development, particularly the need to understand the relationship between substance abuse and other issues such as mental health; the frequency and type of drug being used, and the need to collect data at a national and local level. A better understanding of the complexity of drug use and the reasons for underestimation will help address this paucity of data.

The main aim of this pilot study is to increase understanding of the complexity of drug use among students, and how this may relate to health, the underestimation of drug use, and ways to reduce health harms via a mixed methods approach, this will help address some of the identified gaps in research.


January 2019-2022


School of Social Statistics



Jess has a background in nursing, and continues to work as a nurse, with an interest in health, wellbeing, society, and a particular interest in health inequalities. Having completed a BSc Contemporary Health Practice at Manchester Metropolitan University (2014), Jess continued her studies at the University of Salford, completing a MSc Public Health in 2017. 

For her dissertation, Jess carried out secondary data analysis of the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey to compare the health, wellbeing and social capital of lone parents and couple parents. For this, Jess was awarded the Dr Helen Prosser Memorial prize.

Following this, Jess got involved in research around children with short bowel syndrome and the effects on their family, presenting a poster at the Qual World Interactive Conference 2017. Finally, Jess completed a short spell collecting data for the SMART Work and Life Study, before starting her PhD at the University of Manchester.

Contact details

Office: Room G.45, Humanities Bridgeford Street