Substance use amongst high school learners in the south of johannesburg: Is this the new norm?

Debrah Mohale, Kebogile E. Mokwena*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Substance use amongst high school learners is common in South Africa, with related risky behaviours and outcomes. Because of the social and geographical trends, studies in various parts of the country are essential to contribute to the understanding of the overall picture. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of substance use, as well as the factors associated with substance use in a sample of high school learners in a suburb south of Johannesburg. Methods: A quantitative cross-sectional survey, by using a self-administered questionnaire, was conducted amongst 308 learners in four high schools. The parents of all the learners provided consent for their children to participate in the study. Results: The sample consisted of 308 learners who were in grades 8–12, with a mean age of 16.3. The majority (57%, n = 177) were females and 43% (n = 131) were males. The prevalence of substance use was 31% (n = 94), with 52% (n = 49) of those who use substances being male, compared with 48% (n = 45) females. Of those who used substances, 69% (n = 65) used alcohol, 10% (n = 9) smoked dagga, 5% (n = 5) smoked cigarettes, 7% (n = 7) used other substances and 46% (n = 43) were polyusers. Age, missing school because of illness, use of leisure time and friends using substances were significantly associated with the use of substances (p < 0.05). Conclusion: The prevalence of substance use was high at 31%, which is of concern because the use of legal psychoactive substances remains illegal for minors. The risky factors associated with the use of substances highlight the threat that this behaviour has on the social well-being and educational outcomes of the learners.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbera5122
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalSouth African Family Practice
Volume62
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • High school
  • Johannesburg
  • Risky behaviours
  • South Africa
  • Substance abuse

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