Scientific article
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Published by / Citation
Cogollo-Milanés Z, Gómez Bustamante E, Campo Arias A. Program Effectiveness for the Prevention of Psychoactive Substance Use Among University Students. Rev. Fac. Nac. Salud Pública [Internet]. 2023 Aug. 23 [cited 2024 Mar. 1];41(3):e351578. Available from:
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consumidores de drogas
drogas ilícitas
estudiantes universitarios

Effectiveness of a Program for the Prevention of Psychoactive Substance Consumption in University Students

Objective: To assess the effectiveness of a program for the prevention of substance use among students at a public university in Cartagena, Colombia.

Methodology: Quasi-experimental design, without a control group. The sample consisted of 1098 first-semester students of academic programs at Universidad de Cartagena. Their ages ranged from 16 to 27 years (mean 7.0, standard deviation 1.8), including 472 females (56.9%) and 358 males (43.1%). The entire group participated in the psychoeducational program Construyendo Salud [Building Health], which consists of ten two-hour sessions per week. This program strengthens social and personal skills, and discusses the negative effects of different substances, including myths and realities. The scales showed adequate internal consistency: attitude scale towards consumption, intention towards consumption, general self-efficacy, assertiveness, anger, family functioning, anxiety, and self-esteem. Scores before and after the intervention were compared; student's t-test was applied and p values < 0.05 were accepted.

Results: 830 students participated. There was a reduction in alcohol consumption (77.2 vs. 0.72.7%; p < 0.05) and an increase in the consumption of inhalants (Boxer® glue) (5.1% vs. 5.7%; p < 0.05). Frequency remained similar for cannabis (8.4 vs. 11.1 %; p > 0.05), cocaine (5.1 vs. 7.1 %; p > 0.05) and injectables (4.3 vs. 5.7 %; p > 0.05). Self-esteem (t = 2.29; gl = 824; p < 0.02), emotional control (t = 2.13; gl = 813; p < 0.03) and anxiety management (t = 3.06; gl = 805; p < 0.01) improved.

Conclusion: The program proved effective in reducing alcohol consumption, restraining marijuana and cocaine use, and strengthening self-esteem, emotional control, and anxiety. However, it was not effective in preventing the initiation or intention of substance use.

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