The rate of substance use and associated risk factors among high school students in KwaZulu-Natal.
Lester, Carli Jeanne.
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This study investigated the rate and predictors, as suggested by the prototype-willingness model, of adolescent substance use among a sample high school students from the eThekwini and Ugu regions of KwaZulu-Natal. Through the use of non-probability convenience sampling, the final sample consisted of 162 Black (53.1%, N = 86), White (29.0%, N = 47)), Indian/Asian (12.3%, N = 20) and Coloured/Mixed Race (4.3%, N = 7), high school students, aged 14-17 years old (mean age = 15.5). Data was collected via self-report questionnaires, administered by the researcher during the Life Orientation period at the schools. Chi-square analyses and t-tests were conducted to investigate the associations and differences in scores in relation to predictor variables (gender, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, perceived social support, peer and parental substance-use behaviours, attitudes, subjective norms, risk images, behavioural intention and behavioural willingness) on both current and lifetime use of alcohol and of other illicit substances. Finally, logistic regression models were fitted to determine the significant predictors of adolescent alcohol and substance use. Rate of lifetime substance use indicated that 75% had used alcohol, 41.4% had used cigarettes, 40.4% had used marijuana, 8.6% had used ecstasy, 3.1% had used crack/cocaine, 2% had used crystal methamphetamine, and 2% had used heroin. Rate of past 30-day use among participants were lower than lifetime use: alcohol at 38.3%, cigarettes at 16%, and other illicit substances at 13%. Results from the logistic regression analyses indicated that participants who had used alcohol in the past 30 days were more likely to be white (OR=11.778, p=.003) and were more willing to use alcohol (OR=1.339, p < .001), and those who had used other illicit substances in the past 30 days were more likely to be male (OR=7.526, p=.043) and were also more willing to use substances (OR=1.187, p=.029). Results from this study have illustrated significantly high rates of alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use among the sample of high school adolescents. The constructs of the prototypewillingness model, particularly peer and parental subjective norms, risk images, and behavioural willingness, appear to play a significant role in South African adolescents’ decision making in relation to alcohol and substance use. Therefore, future adolescent alcohol and substance use prevention interventions should concentrate efforts on changing heuristic representations of alcohol and substance, particularly on decreasing favourability of actor prototypes and increasing favourability of abstainer prototypes, as well as on informing parents of their significant impact as role models.