Substance abuse and their social effects on adolescents in Uganda: A study of secondary school students in Nakawa Division, Kampala District
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Preventing substance abuse by adolescents has been one of the agendas of the government of Uganda for a long time. Government has tried its best using various policies and legislations to curb the habit of substance abuse by adolescents in particular. However, there is ample evidence showing increased levels of substance abuse by adolescents including those in secondary schools. Yet, the factors leading to this trend were not yet fully known. The overall objective of the study was to find out the influence of social factors on substance abuse by adolescents and its social effects in Nakawa Division, Kampala District. The study which adopted a cross-sectional research design was conducted in four purposively selected secondary schools in Nakawa Division. The study sample was 105 distributed among 88 adolescents and the study used 17 key informants. The sample was randomly selected. Data was collected using self-administered questionnaires, Interview guides and Focus Group Discussions (FGD). Quantitative data from questionnaires was analysed using SPSS while qualitative data was treated to thematic analysis. It was found out that traditions, slum environments, extended family backgrounds and adolescents‟ sex (particularly male sex) were strongly linked with the behaviour to abuse substances. On the other hand, religion and ethnicity was found not to influence adolescents to abuse substance. Meanwhile, other socio-cultural factors were found to have both negative and positive influences including; peer pressure, adult pressure and the mass media. According to the findings, it can be concluded that the major factors leading adolescents to abuse substances are traditions, living in slum environments and being male by sex, and to a smaller extent peer pressure, adult pressure and the mass media. The factors that were found not to directly influence substance abuse were; one‟s religion and ethnicity. Lastly, it was found out that the effects of substance abuse on adolescents were largely negative. According to the findings of this study, it can be concluded that some social factors influence adolescents to abuse substances while others do not. For instance, living in slums, belonging to an extended family and traditions negatively influence adolescents to abuse substances. On the other hand, peer pressure, adult pressure and the mass media have both positive and negative influence. Lastly, religion and ethnicity were found not to influence abuse of substances.