A study published in the Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy journal details the prevalence of substance use amongst students from Debre Berhan University in Central Ethiopia.
Substance use behaviors of 695 students were assessed using tools derived from the World Health Organization Model Students’ Substance Use Core Questionnaire.
The lifetime and current uptake of alcohol, khat and cigarettes, shisha and cannabis was explored. The researchers found that people who have friends or family members who take drugs, who have a higher monthly income or ate at the university cafe were more likely to have tried or currently take some of the listed substances.The results of this study also suggested that the levels of substance use were lower than in other Ethiopian and African universities.
In the discussion, the researchers also highlight the customs and religious implementation of alcohol at events meaning those that do not regularly drink or enjoy drinking alcohol are likely to have tried small amounts during such ceremonies. Therefore, an expiation was included in the questionnaire so that alcohol consumption during religious and social ceremonies was not included.
Since there were multiple factors associated with the prevalence of substance use - ranging between individual, social and environmental - the research team suggest that a "focus on changing individual perception, knowledge, and intention towards substances" may go some way to addressing youth drug use.
The research was funded by Debre Berhan University and is available for free online as an open access paper.