Stressful life events and alcohol use among university students in Botswana
Stressful life events are known to be associated with substance use, especially among young adults. In this study, the association between stressful life events and alcohol use among young adults pursuing university education in a university in Botswana was studied. A total of 312 young adults participated in the study (55.4% females, mean age = 21.58 (SD =1.87)). Student Stress Scale adapted from Holmes and Rahe’s Social Readjustment Rating Scale (1967) was used to assess stressful life events. Alcohol use was assessed using a self-reported alcohol use scale. A majority (59%) of participants reported drinking alcohol. Stressful life events correlated moderately and positively with different types of alcohol use: quantity of alcohol consumed, the frequency of drinking beer, and lifetime drunkenness. Gender differences were observed for all types of alcohol use. The main reasons for drinking alcohol were to: celebrate special occasions, feel better, and enjoy the taste and effects of alcohol. In multiple regression analyses, stressful life events significantly and independently predicted quantity of alcohol consumed [(β=.25, (95% CI: .05, .45)], frequency of drinking beer [(β=.28, (95% CI: .11, .45)] , frequency of drinking wine [(β=.18, (95% CI: .04, .32)], drinking liquor [(β=.17, (95% CI: .02, .32)], drinking power drinks [(β=.28, (95% CI: .06, .49)], cocktail drinks [(β=.32, (95% CI: .13, .50)], and lifetime drunkenness [(β=.29, (95% CI: .11, .47)] but not age at first use. Stressful life events are strong predictors of alcohol use among young adults at university levels. More interventions are needed to tackle the adverse effects of stressful life events at university level and to teach students better coping strategies and better education on alcohol use.
Keywords: Stress, alcohol use, Botswana, university students, life events