Experiential Narratives of Substance Use by College Students: Implication for Social Workers’ Engagement in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions

  • Jacinta C. Ene
  • Chinwe U Nnama-Okechukwu
  • Chinyere E. Onalu


Substance use among college students remains a global issue. This negative behavior is often associated with students’ poor academic performance,  health, and social problems. We endeavored to examine why students in tertiary institutions use substances and the need for social workers’ intervention  in schools. Data was sourced using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. Experiences with substance use were sought from 30  undergraduate students and two social work educators at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Themes were developed from the transcripts and quotes  were used to relate outstanding points from their responses. Evidence from the narratives showed that students use substances like tobacco, tramadol,  cocaine, and other substances as an accepted norm adopted to overcome social, economic, and academic challenges. Peer group influence, place of  residence and family structure were some factors found to influence substance use among college students. Strategies put forward by the students to  overcome substance use include financial assistance, adequate accommodation with monitoring personnel and introducing extra-curriculum activities in  schools. The absence of social workers’ involvement in tertiary institutions was observed. We recommend the need for social workers’ intervention in  higher institutions and their active involvement in substance use concerns in Nigerian higher institutions. 


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eISSN: 1115-3946