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Psychosocial skills intervention for substance use amongst street children in a Local Government Area in South west Nigeria

A.O Adebiyi
E.T Owoaje


Introduction: The unrestrained exposure to the street and its associated lifestyles make the street child vulnerable to substance use. However, the effectiveness of psycho-social skills intervention on the knowledge and use of these substances among street children in transitional communities has not been fully investigated, hence the need for this study.

Methods: A community interventional study was conducted with a total sample of 360 street children allocated to the intervention and control clusters. The  knowledge of and psychosocial correlates of substance use were assessed and an interactive psycho-social skills intervention package implemented for the  intervention group while the control group had an HIV/AIDS health education programme.

Results: The mean age was 16 ± 1.2 years and 16 ± 1.3 years for the intervention and control groups, respectively, 54% of intervention group were males compared to 62.8% in control group. For children fully on the street, baseline current substance use was 58.7% and 69.7% in intervention and control groups, respectively. Mean knowledge scores increased from 8.6 ± 3.9 at baseline to 17.3 ± 2.9 at 12 weeks post intervention in the intervention group compared to the control group, where it increased slightly from 8.0 ± 5.1 at baseline 8.7 ± 4.1 at the 12 weeks post  intervention period, (p<0.005). Post intervention, there was a statistically   significant reduction in the current use of hypno-sedatives, tobacco, pawpaw leaves, solvents, and ethanol but not stimulant. In the control group, there was a general increase in the current use of the substances at the 12 weeks post intervention.

Conclusions: An interactive psychosocial package may be effective for reducing psychoactive substance use amongst street children. However, further research will be needed to address stimulant use which was not affected by our intervention.

Keywords: Street children, Psycho-social skills intervention, Substance use,


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eISSN: 1115-4608
print ISSN: 0794-7410