Relationships as determinants of substance use amongst street children in a local
Background: Unrestrained exposure to street life often makes the street child vulnerable to psychoactive substances. In other settings, the social relationships of the substance user with those around him or her and family norms of parenting have been docu-mented to modulate use. However, there is a dearth of literature on the role of relationships in substance use in Nigeria. Methods: A cross-sectional analytical study of street children was conducted in a local government area of south-western Nigeria between November 2004 and March 2005, with data analysis being undertaken in April 2005 and November 2006. A cluster sampling method was used to recruit 360 consenting street children into the study. Information was collected on socio-demographic characteristics, parental and friend connectedness, familial stress and current psychoactive substance use.
Results: The mean age was 16.2 ± 1.3 years, and there were more males (58.3%) than females. Most of the respondents (65%) were still living with their parents. Fifty-three per cent of the respondents were current psychoactive substance users and the five commonest substances used were kola nut (58.6%), alcohol (43.6%), tobacco (41.4%), marijuana (25.4%) and “sokudaye” (24.9%). Of the respondents who live alone and of those whose fathers work outside of the town, 84% and 57.9% respectively were more likely to be current users at P < 0.05. Similarly, low connectedness with mother and friends and low parental presence were significantly associated with current substance use (75.7%, 77.5% and 58.3% respectively at P < 0.05). On logistic regression, only low con-
nectedness with mother (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.194.98) and friend (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.705.72) predicted current substance use.
Conclusion: The study documented the important role of positive relationships between street children and their friends/mothers in preventing psychoactive substance use
South African Family Practice Vol. 50 (5) 2008: pp. 47-47d