Alcohol and substance abuse among students at University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : the protective role of psychological capital and health promoting lifestyle.
Alcohol and substance use prevalence has been high among youth and more alarmingly high among university students globally. The South African university students are not different from other students around the globe. Alcohol in particularly is a widely used psychoactive substance with dependence properties. Alcohol and other substance use and abuse are associated with serious physical and psychological consequences. It is therefore important to explore possible protective factors that may decrease the likelihood of substances use behaviours with detrimental consequence on the health and well-being of students. This study therefore aims to investigate the prevalence of substance use and abuse, the association between demographic and the likely protective role of psychological capital and the engagement in a health promoting lifestyle against substance use to gain a better understanding of the severity of substance use among students and possible substance use interventions for students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. The study utilized a cross-sectional survey design and collected data from a convenient sample of 515 students. The survey questionnaire included demographic, Psychological Capital (PsyCap), Health Promotion Lifestyle Profile II (HPLP II) and Alcohol, Smoking and Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) measurements. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 22) is used to analyse the data. Frequency and descriptive statistics were used to describe and understand prevalence of alcohol and substance use. Associations between variables were explored using Pearson’s and Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients, chi-square, independent sample t-test and ANOVA tests were used to assess difference among demographic groups and the measures while step wise logistic regression models were fitted to determine the best predictors of risky alcohol use and smoking behaviors. The study found that alcohol, smoking and cannabis use were as the most common substances used. Even though the life time alcohol usage (68%) and usage within the past three months (57%) was high, 17.5% of the students were found to be engaged on hazardous alcohol drinking. Male students were more at risk for risky substance use, and significantly different on smoking and cannabis use from female students. White and Coloured students were also found to be risky alcohol and smoking users. Association were found between most of the substances used. The students’ general Psychological capital (PsyCap) was high, but scores were low in self-efficacy. Male students’ PsyCap was significantly higher than of female students. The students’ participation in health promoting lifestyle was poor with lowest in physical activity, nutrition, health responsibility and stress management. There was a significant association between the PsyCap and HPLS. The result of Spearman rho’s showed significant and negative association between male students’ alcohol and smoking use in terms of PyCap and HPLS. Males and lower levels of resilience were found to be best predictors of risky alcohol use, White and Coloured race students and having poor HPLS were predictors for smoking. The study concluded that students should be made aware of the negative consequences of substance on their health and wellbeing and interventions need to be directed at enhancing resilience and engagement in more health promoting lifestyles through supportive environments and skills building opportunities. Limitation of the study pertain to convenient sampling and the inability to generalise the findings to all students at UKZN and therefore further studies could use representative samples to generalise, and qualitative studies to deepen the understanding of PsyCap and HPLS as protective factors against alcohol and substance use.