Main Article Content
Background: Adolescence is associated with high-risk behaviour, experimentation with substance use and testing boundaries, putting adolescents at increased risk for exploitation, harmful practices, health challenges and getting into trouble. The perceived effect of a substance on an adolescent can determine its use. This study aimed to identify the perceptions adolescents have towards substance use, the risky behaviour and harmful practices associated with substance use and determine the accessibility of substances among adolescents in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja Federal Capital Territory.
Study Design: This was a cross-sectional, descriptive study carried out among secondary school adolescents.
Place and Duration: The study was carried out in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria from May to July 2015.
Methodology: A questionnaire-based study using a multi-stage random sampling method to select the students.
Results: A total of 1,196 adolescents’ questionnaires were analysed comprising of 555 (46.4%) males and 641(53.6%) females. There was a high perception of harm from the use of cigarette, alcohol and Indian hemp among the adolescents and was statistically significant for cigarette use at P= <.001 OR= .104 CI .0371 – .343 and alcohol use at P= 0.01 OR= 9.75 CI 2.971-27.497. The perceived ease of access to licit substances was much higher than that for the illicit substances with the relationship between perceived availability and substance use being statistically significant for all eight substances assessed. Substance use was also found to be associated with adolescent risky behaviour and harmful practices.
Conclusion: More awareness needs to be created on the harmful physical, social and mental effects of substance use while stricter rules and regulations should be enforced to ensure restricted access of substances to adolescents.