Substance use among secondary school adolescents in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria
Background: Adolescent substance use is a growing epidemic that is placing heavy burdens on individuals, families and communities hence the stimulus for this study.
Aim/Objectives: To determine the prevalence and pattern of substance use among secondary school adolescents in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria.
Methods: A questionnaire-based, cross-sectional, descriptive study done over a three-month period among secondary school adolescents aged 10 to 18 years old after obtaining appropriate ethical approvals, consent and assent.
Results: A total of 1,196 questionnaires were analysed, of which 641 (53.6%) were females and 1,052 (87.96%) from public schools. The overall prevalence rate for lifetime use was 72.7%. The substance with the highest prevalence rates for lifetime, annual and current use was kola nut (44.3%, 24.4 and 11.0%, respectively) and lowest for heroin (0.7%, 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively). There was a statistically significant male preponderance for licit substance use and a non-statistically significant female preponderance for illicit substance use. 507(42.4%) students were single substance users while 363 (30.35%) students were multiple substance users. Age at first use was at ten years of age or less.
Conclusion and recommendations: There is need for strengthening substance use prevention programmes and implementing regulatory laws on sale and use of substances. Stiffer penalties for offenders are recommended.
Keywords: Prevalence;substance use; adolescent; secondary school; Nigeria