Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice
Year : 2010  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 76-81

Licit and illicit substance use by adolescent students in eastern India: Prevalence and associated risk factors

1 Department of Community Medicine, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences and Central Referral Hospital, 5th Mile Tadong, Gangtok, Sikkim - 737 102, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, 110 Chittaranjan Avenue, Kolkata, India

Correspondence Address:
Ranabir Pal
Department of Community Medicine, Sikkim-Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, 5th Mile, Tadong, Sikkim, Gangtok -737 102
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-3147.71721

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Background: Use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances is a worldwide problem and affects many adolescents. Objective: (1) To find out the magnitude of licit and illicit substance use among students; and (2) to find out the association between socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the students and habits of use. Materials and Methods: This was a population-based cross-sectional study conducted during June 2003 to May 2004. In a multistage random sampling among all the districts and schools in West Bengal, India, 416 high school students from two schools were selected. The main outcome measures were substance use, namely, tobacco, alcohol, and cannabinoids. From the schools, all the students in the classes VIII, IX, and X were taken as the study population and were administered a pretested close-ended anonymous self-administered questionnaire relating to pattern, frequency, and correlates of substance use. Results: The ultimate response rate was 87.02% and 416 students could be covered in our study. The overall prevalence rates among rural and urban students were 6.14% and 0.6% for illicit drug use, 8.60% and 11.04% for tobacco, and 7.37% and 5.23% for alcohol consumption, respectively. Both licit and illicit substance use was associated more with male students. Current and regular use were mostly restricted to tobacco, and the use of a substance by family members had a significant impact on its use by their children. "Enjoyment" and "Curiosity" were found to have the major influence in their decision to use a substance. Conclusions: Early identification of the magnitude and the factors related to substance use can improve scopes for planning and preventive approaches for this vulnerable group before the problems get serious after which interventions become difficult.

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