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n Medical Technology SA - Substance abuse among students at a Caribbean University
Drug abuse is considered to be a major public health problem, particularly among school-attending adolescents and young adults studying at tertiary institutions. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of substance abuse among medical students at a university and to evaluate the negative impact of these drugs on the students' academic performance and social life. The study was conducted amongst medical students at a university located in the southern rural part of St Lucia, West Indies and was designed to be a cross-sectional survey using self-administered anonymous questionnaires, which is a modified version of the World Health Organisation questionnaire designed to determine student drug abuse. One hundred preclinical medical students, 57 males and 43 females took part in the survey, with ages ranging from 19 to 45 years and a mean age of 26.04 ± 5.17 years.
The results indicated that 94% of the respondents had used drugs before. Alcohol was the commonest substance of abuse (73%) with the commonest predisposing factor to drug use being social-peer pressure (79%). The negative impact of drug use was seen mostly on their academic performances (16%), followed by their social life, (12%) and financial situation (7%). A strong correlation was found between substance affordability and availability with a statistical significance of p < 0.01. Most of the respondents were introduced to substance abuse by their friends. The most noticeable effect of drug / substance abuse on the students was reported to be class absenteeism (12%).
As the prevalence of drug abuse was found to be very high in this study, it is of significant importance that the use of psychoactive drugs among university students be studied further as to find a solution to this ever-increasing problem.
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