Self-esteem and alcohol dependence as predictors of contemplation to use drugs among university students in Botswana
This exploratory study aimed to draw attention to the plight of young people who contemplate to use drugs in order to cope with emotional distress. The study was entrenched within the Theory of Reasoned Action/Planned Behaviour, based on which it was assumed that contemplation to use drugs could lead to actual drug use.
Data were collected from a sample of 249 undergraduate students (65.4% female; mean age = 20.12 years, SD = 2.02). Contemplation to use drugs was measured through a single-item scale. Self-esteem was measured by Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale, and alcohol dependence was measured with a four-item scale. We hypothesised that selfesteem and alcohol dependence would predict contemplation of drug use. Among participants who reported contemplation of drug use, 56.6 percent reported repeated use of illicit drugs while 43.4 percent had not taken illicit drugs. Low self-esteem was not associated with drug use or alcohol dependence but was associated with contemplation of drug use (p = 0.000). Binary logistic regression analysis revealed that an increase in self-esteem decreased the probability of contemplating drug use (p = 0.016), while higher alcohol dependence increased the probability of contemplating drug use (p = 0.019). The results are discussed with regard to substance abuse prevention programmes in tertiary education.
Keywords: alcohol dependence, avoidance behaviour, Botswana, coping, drug use, emotional distress, self-esteem