Corona Q&A for students

It cannot be ignored. Just a few weeks ago the corona virus (COVID-19) reached the Netherlands and since then it has a big impact on our lives. This is also the case for exchange students. Underneath you can find what you, as a student, need to know about the corona virus. But first, let us introduce ourselves.

We are LOS, an organisation providing peer-education to students about sexuality and substance use. In normal times you can find us at several student parties where you can ask all sorts of questions about sexuality and substance use. Now, we provide you with relevant information online about these topics in regards to the corona virus.

University and schools are closed, education is given online. Studying happens at home and the bars are closed as well! Sadly, but also completely understandable and necessary, parties are being cancelled and getting together in groups is being discouraged. But what do you do if you live together with several other students in the same house? Is it still possible to see your flirt nowadays? And how do you organise the Friday Night Drinks?

We need to look for alternative ways to stay in touch, to escape from daily reality, and to relax. Please be careful and do not take any unnecessary risks. This is not the time to exhaust yourself or get really wasted. So let’s help and inspire each other to stay as alert, healthy and positive as possible.

Taking care of your body, in particular your immune system, is more important than ever. The use of drugs in these times brings about different risks than they usually do. How does that work, what are those risks, and what does that mean for you? You’ll find the answers in this article.

We will keep on updating this page so keep an eye on this website!

What are the risks of using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs at this moment?

  • The use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs has an impact on your immune system. This could make you more vulnerable for negative effects of the corona virus.
  • You could get infected through your dealer or people you use drugs with, and even through contact with glasses, cigarettes, joints, ponypacks and ziploc bags.
  • You yourself may be a young and healthy god or goddess, you can still transfer the virus to people with an immune system that doesn’t work properly. But pay attention, because even young and healthy people can get the virus and all the nasty consequences.
  • Together, we have to try to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system. We can contribute to this by minimizing the unnecessary risks we take. Postponing drug use is one way to do this.

Why is the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs bad for your immune system?
The use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs has an effect on your eat- and sleep patterns. Eating and sleeping well are important for your immune system. Some drugs influence your appetite. As a result, it is possible you will eat less than your body actually needs or less healthy than you have planned. Besides that, all substances severely reduce the quality of your sleep after use.

What can I do to minimize risks in case I still want to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs?

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink, and, preferably, don’t use any other drugs for the time being. If things go wrong, it’s an additional burden on the healthcare system.
  • Do not go to house parties (and do not organise them). Do not gather in groups. The chance of getting infected is large in these kind of places. And besides that, you can get fined.
  • If you are using with others, do not share. Try to use your own cigarette, glass, balloon, bottle or joint.
  • Sleep well, eat healthy (nuts, seeds, vitamins), stay active (individual sports) and keep your normal rhythm for an optimal working immune system.
  • Alcohol and other drugs influence your judgment, take this into account when you want to have sex. Have safe sex, use a condom. And remember, in a lot of places there are fewer or no STI-consultations at all possible.
  • Keep enough distance from other people, for instance, in the line for the coffeeshop. Follow the guidelines from the RIVM. You could also go at quieter times, for example in the morning.
  • In case you do want to take drugs, take a lower dose than you would usually take. Do not combine it with alcohol, other drugs or medications. This will reduce the risk for needing medical care.
  • Postpone the use of a new substance until this crisis regarding the corona virus has cooled down. The effects can be unpredictable for you. In case you plan to use a new substance anyway, make sure you are not alone (but don’t meet up with other people unnecessarily which increases your risk of catching the virus).

Is it safe to have sex during this corona crisis?

Where can I find reliable information on the corona virus regarding the Netherlands?

  • Soa-Aids Nederland gives answers on questions regarding sex, STI’s and the corona virus (English).
  • RIVM: Up-to-date information and advice regarding the corona virus (English).
  • Rijksoverheid: up-to-date information from the Dutch government (English).
  • General website for information on health and disease (Dutch).
  • The Nederlands Jeugd Instituut offers information for young people, parents and professionals about the current precautions regarding the corona virus (Dutch).

How do I know if something is fake news?
Fake news has been a problem for a while and can contribute to anxiety. Fake news messages, which can lead to unsettlement or motivate people to do the wrong thing, are frequently shared in Whatsapp groups. We have collected a few articles on this topic:

  • What is fake news? – article from Webwise about fake news and the different kinds of fake news.
  • How to spot fake news – article from NPR National Public Radio about fake news and how to recognize it.

My question was not in this list. Where can I ask my question?

  • Mail:
  • Jellinek Advice Phone: 088 – 505 1220 (Daily from 9 AM till 5 PM)
  • Jellinek Q&A
  • Chat alcohol & drugs: direct contact with an expert about substance use, daily from 1 PM till 5 PM.
  • Wij zijn Mind: for questions regarding stress and other psychological issues (Dutch)

I would like to receive advice or help with reducing my substance use or quitting, where can I go?
You can also always call with the Jellinek Advice Phone to share your story and receive some advice about your personal situation. This phone is available through 088 505 1220 (daily from 9 AM till 5 PM).

Most clinics continue to give their treatments but it may be given through digital consults. Contact your local healthcare for up-to-date information.

Online self-help is available, for example at Jellinek.