African Research Journal of Education and Social Sciences, 4 (2), 2017.
Authors: Joyce Pere1 and Eleen Yatich2
Pere,1 The Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
Dr. Yatich,2 a lecturer at Kisii University Campus in Kenya.
Email of the corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The increase and devastating effects of drug abuse among university students have continued to raise major concerns on how the various preventative strategies that have been put in place have contributed to the reduction of drug abuse among students. This study sought to examine challenges hindering effective reduction of drug abuse among undergraduate students in public universities in Kenya. The study applied the mixed method design where a cross-sectional survey design was adopted for quantitative data and phenomenological design for qualitative data. A sample of 306 subjects was used in the study out of which 300 responded. Both probability and non probability sampling methods were used to select the study sample. Questionnaire and interview guide were used for data collection. To ensure that the instruments were valid, content validity was used. Split half method was used to estimate reliability of instruments where a Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient value of 0.78 was obtained which is higher than the reasonable threshold of 0.7, thus making the instruments to be considered as reliable. Collected data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis approaches. Data from questionnaire were coded and entered in the computer using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Version 21. Quantitative approach involved the descriptive analyses such as frequencies and percentages. Data collected through an interview with key informant were analyzed qualitatively. Qualitative data generated from interviews were categorized in themes in accordance with the research objectives and reported in narrative form along with quantitative presentation. The study found that the major challenges hindering effective reduction of drug abuse included: ease access and availability of drugs, peer pressure, poor policy implementation, family challenges, low self-esteem and frustrations. The study suggests the need for all stakeholders in education to to combine their efforts in order to fight against every challenge that hinders reduction of the prevalence of drug abuse among university students in the institutions of learning in Kenya.
Keywords: Drug abuse, substance abuse, drug abuse reduction, peer pressure effect, drug abuse reduction strategies
Despite that various policies against drug abuse has been set across the world, there are cases of increased drug and substance abuse trends particularly in developing countries where there are few interventions towards its prevention and poor implementation of the existing policies, United Nations Drug Campaign Programme (UNDCP, 2010). A report by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2011) estimated that between 3.3% to 6% of the world total population aged 15-64 years abuse drugs annually. The same report indicated that a significant percentage (45%) of this population comprise of students in colleges and universities. A study carried out by Great Lakes University (2009) found that, alcohol and drug abuse among secondary school students in Kenya have doubled in 10 years time (Lonah, 2013). To curb the menace it was suggested that alcohol and drug abuse curriculum should be prepared in partnership between the Ministry of Education, national authority for the campaign against drug abuse (NACADA) and other relevant agencies.
Drug abuse among the global youth population has become a serious problem affecting everyone. Addiction leads many people, young people prominent among them, into downward spiral of hopelessness that in some cases ends fatal (Patricia, 2014). They range from glue-sniffing street children and teenage ecstasy users, to hard core heroin and cocaine addicts (NACADA, 2005). Drug abuse is responsible for lost wages, destruction of property in schools, soaring health care costs and broken families. It is a problem which affects everyone including parents, children, teachers, government officials, taxpayers and workers (Patricia, 2014). United States of America was found to have citizens who were four times (16%) more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next closest country, New Zealand (4%), Marijuana use was more widely reported worldwide, and the United states also had the highest rate of use at 42.4% compared with 41.9% of New Zealanders (Warner, 2008).The problem of alcohol and illicit drug use on college and university campuses is significant. Pakistan had an approximately 25% to 44% of students reporting alcohol and/or illicit drug use, and prevalence rates on the incline, this problem is a significant concern for Pakistani colleges and universities (Khattak, Iqbal & Ullah, 2012). In the United Kingdom (UK), drug abuse reduction among university students involved formulation of drug abuse legislations such as Criminal Justice Act of 2000 and Drug Acts of 2005 (UNODC, 2010). These Acts introduced compulsory drug testing on any student who was found with a criminal offence. Consequently, the analysis of the UK drug report (2012) showed a 10% decrease in alcohol and drug abuse among the university students’ population compared to 35% prevalence rate in 2011 (UNODC, 2012).
In Africa, the problem of drug abuse among students has been a constant presence for years. In Nigeria for instance, abuse of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, bhang and Khat have been on the increase among college and university students with varying prevalence rates found for both overall and specific drug of abuse (Oshodi, Aina & Anajole, 2010; Abasiubong, Alphonsus & Uwemendimbuk, 2012). A study conducted by Oshikoya and Alli (2006) at the Ilorin University of Nigeria on drug abuse showed that, the lifetime prevalence rate of drug abuse among university students was found to vary between 5.0% for tobacco, 47% for alcohol, 3.5% for bhang while cocaine and heroin varied at 1.5%. In Sokoto a cross-sectional study by Sue (2014) among the undergraduate students in Usmanu Danfodiyo University revealed an increase in prevalence rates of drug abuse from 10.9% to 17.8%. On the other hand, Maxwell (2009) reported an increasing prevalence rate of 19.5% to 50.7% in Rivers State College of Science and Technology in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. South African study found an alcohol use prevalence rate of 39.1% and a cigarette use prevalence rate of 10.6% among high school adolescents. Other drugs that are commonly used in these settings include cannabis, inhalants, tranquilizers, heroin and cocaine, among others (Peter, 2008). A study conducted by Wood, Nagoshi and Dennis (2013) among Ugandan undergraduate students revealed that 17% of students were currently abusing cannabis, 5.5% abused inhalants, 2.0% opiates, 1.2% cocaine and 2.5% abused hypo-sedatives. In Tanzania, a study carried out by Simbee (2012) revealed that in Dar es Saalam, the prevalence of current drug abuse among students was 5.1% and that the abuse was higher by 6.2% among male students compared to female students 3.9%. The same study revealed that 39.7% of students abused drugs daily, 10.8% once in a month and 8.6% abused drugs more than three times in a year. On the hand, policies to reduce drug abuse among university students have been made, for instance, Universities in Nigeria (Abia State University, Anambra State University and Adamawa State University) adopted the policy established by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in order to deter university students from drug possession, trafficking and consumption. The policy advocated that trafficking of cocaine, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), heroin and similar drugs is punishable by life imprisonment (NDLEA, 1990).
In Kenya, drug abuse among college and university students remains an important area of concern due to the implications of early drug dependence on the future of the youth (Atwoli et al., 2011). Other studies (Chesang, 2013; Rintaugu, Ngetich & Kamande, 2012; Rintaungu, Mwisukha & Mundia, 2011) have reported high rates of drug abuse among students in Kenyan public universities, with rates as high as 84% for alcohol abuse and 54.7% for tobacco abuse. According to NACADA (2012) drug abuse continues to emerge as a strategy for most students to cope with their prevailing problems such as sexual abuse, poor academic performance, and financial difficulties. In addition statistics from the Rapid Situation Assessment of Drug and Substance Abuse in Kenya (NACADA, 2010) showed that 11.7% of students aged 15 to 24 years abuse alcohol, 6.2% abuse tobacco, 4.7% khat and 1.5% abuse cannabis. To reduce the cases of drug abuse, the Kenyan government established NACADA in March 2001. The organization was given the mandate to provide drug abuse education, develop an action plan and sensitize parents on drug abuse among students all over the country (NACADA, 2010). Universities in Kenya have also joined NACADA in the fight against drug abuse among the students. Drug abuse university policy that forbids possession, trafficking and consumption of drugs of abuse within the university premises have also been established (Larimer, Kilmer & Lee, 2010). Almost all universities in Kenya have well established guidance and counseling departments that deal with students’ personal issues as well as issues that deal with drug abuse (Otingi, 2012). However, there are still underlying issues that continue to hinder effective reduction of drugs in the institutions of learning. Thus, this study intended to examine the major challenges hindering effective reduction of drug abuse among undergraduate students in public universities in Kenya.
The researcher used the mixed methods design so as to obtain different but complementary data on the same topic to best understand the research problem, and to bring together the differing strengths and weaknesses of quantitative methods with those of the qualitative methods (Creswell & Clark, 2007). Validating quantitative data model was used, which involved collecting quantitative and qualitative data within one survey instrument, and then analyzing the data simultaneously. The quantitative research design used was cross-sectional survey, which was an appropriate strategy for obtaining information on the nature, opinion and characteristics of people so as to estimate one or more population parameters (Kerlinger, 2002). The qualitative research design that guided this study was phenomenology.
Phenomenological research seeks essentially to describe rather than explain and starts from a perspective free from hypothesis or preconceptions (Creswell, 2014). As a naturalistic design, it enabled the researcher to interact deeply with the studied group in order to obtain detailed and holistic data from the natural settings. In this case, the peer counsellors, university counsellors and the deans of students described their experiences in regard to the influence of preventative strategies in the reducing drug abuse among undergraduate students in public university campuses in Nairobi County.
This study had a target population of 60,000 full time University students from the twenty (20) public university Campuses in Nairobi County (Ministry of Education Science and Technology, MoEST, 2013). In addition, twenty (20) peer counselors, twenty (20) dean of students, and twenty (20) university counselors were also targeted for qualitative data. A sample size of three hundred and twenty one (321) respondents was obtained using sample size determination formula for finite population (Nassiuma, 2000). Three hundred and six (306) of them took part in the study which accounted to a response rate of 95%.
The study applied both probability and non-probability sampling procedures to obtain the respondents for questionnaire and interviews. Purposive sampling method which is a non-probability sampling procedure was used to select the key informant who participated in the study basing on years of experience in public service. For probability sampling procedure, stratified sampling method was used to select the study sample representatives from selected Universities. To arrive at two (2) Universities that took part in the study, the researcher also used stratified random sampling method, where all universities in Nairobi County were classified into two groups where one (1) university was drawn from every group.
The study instruments used in the study were questionnaire and interview guides. To ensure that the instruments were valid, content validity was used. Split Half method was used to estimate reliability of instruments where a Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient value of 0.78 was obtained which is higher than the reasonable threshold of 0.7, thus making the instruments to be considered as reliable. Collected data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative data analysis approaches. Quantitative approach involved the descriptive analyses such as frequencies and percentages. Data from questionnaire were coded and entered in the computer using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Version 21. Data collected through an interview with key informant were analyzed qualitatively. Qualitative data generated from interviews were categorized in themes in accordance with the research objectives and reported in narrative form along with quantitative data presentation. The emerging themes of concern were integrated within the framework of the quantitative analysis.
3.1 Background Information
The background information of the respondents that took part in this study included gender, age bracket, educational level and working experience. Among the students, slightly more than half (59%) of then were male and the remaining 41% were female. Majority (75%) of them were below 23 years and the remaining 25% were 24 years and above. A vast majority (84%) of the students were single. Only 16% of them were married. On the other hand, among the key informants, two third (67%) of them were male and the remaining 33% of them were female. All the key informants were above 30 years age. In addition, majority (83%) of them had a working experience of 5 years and above and the remaining 13% had an experience of up to 4 years. In terms of academic qualifications, two third (67%) of the key informants had master’s level and above while the remaining 33% had bachelor’s qualification.
3.2 Challenges Hindering Effective Reduction of Drug Abuse among University Students
The study sought to examine the challenges hindering the effective reduction of drug abuse among public university students in Nairobi County. Various items were presented to the students. The students were asked to indicate their opinions on whether the statement was most pressing, pressing, least pressing or not pressing.
Nearly half (48%) of the respondents indicated that the challenge of “students having excess money enable them to buy drugs” was ‘most pressing’, 26% of them reported it was ‘pressing’. This implies that excess money among students could be a major challenge against drug abuse reduction strategies in public universities. On ranking “availability and accessibility of drugs within university compound” as among the challenges hindering drug abuse reduction in public universities, a vast majority (82%) of the respondents were in agreement that the item was pressing. This shows that this challenge could also be a key hindrance towards reduction of drug abuse among university students.
When the respondents were asked to indicate their views on “peer pressure has hindered effective reduction of drugs abuse among students”, an overwhelming majority (81%) of them were affirmative that the this was a pressing challenge to drug abuse reduction. This means that if no interventions are put to counter peer pressure among university students, drug abuse reduction in the public high learning institutions will remain a dream to be achieved. Another challenge that was subjected to general views among study participants was “Poor implementation of drug abuse policies”. Over a two thirds (70%) of the respondents pointed out that this challenge is pressing. This implies that over two third of the respondents were aware that poor implementation of drug abuse policies could be among challenges hindering drug abuse reduction among students in public universities.
“Family challenges” was another item that was subjected for respondents’ views. Nearly two third (65%) of the students indicated that family challenges are “pressing” and “most pressing” hindrances toward reduction of drug abuse among public university students. Another 28% of them pointed out that the challenge was “least pressing”. Only 7% of them indicated that the challenge was “not pressing”. This implies that family challenges influence drug abuse reduction among public university students.
Slightly more than two third (68%) of the students reported that “low self-esteem among students” hinder drug abuse reduction among public university students. The remaining 32% either indicated the challenge is “least pressing” or “not pressing”. This shows that self-esteem among students could be a determinant on why drug abuse reduction among students in public universities is still hard.
Majority (77%) of the students pointed out that “bad examples by role models” could be a challenge hindering drug abuse reduction among public university students. The remaining 23% of them either reported that the challenge was “least pressing” or “not pressing”. This means that majority of those who are supposed to be role models of the university students in the war against drug abuse do not take their responsibilities.
Over two third (73%) of the students indicated that personal/individual frustrations (social, academic) have made students to abuse drugs. Another 17% of them reported academic challenges as ‘least pressing’ challenge that hinder drug abuse reduction among students in public university. Only 11% of them pointed out that “academic challenges” have not made students to abuse drugs. It is clear that majority of the students indicated that academic challenges could be among challenges hindering drug abuse reduction among students in public universities.
Commenting on the challenges hindering the effective reduction of drug abuse, the key informants gave various thoughts towards questions asked by the interviewer. For instance, dean of students I said:
The environment in which we are in makes it hard to deal with the menace of drug abuse. Drugs are sold all over…sometimes even with our tight security we still find some drug traffickers finding their own ways into the campus. Some students avoid the office because they have an attitude that the office is meant to punish them, thus, it becomes difficult to reach them and the fact that the town campuses have no hostels to host the students has posed a major challenge in fighting against drug abuse. Some parents are also not supportive to reduce drug abuse among their children where they protect them when called in the office. In addition, the university management some time does not give the expected financial support to the dean’s office.
University counselor I reported that:
“Majority of the students who abuse drugs have low self-esteem. In fact they lack confidence with their great potentials to overcome heads on life challenges. Some of them even do not share the problems they go through with their peers or a higher person who can intercede their challenges. Therefore, it becomes so easy for such group of students to be victims of peer influence that lead them to drug abuse as they try to find the easiest way to manage stress.”
Peer counselor II noted that:
“Amongst the people who are expected to lead by example in the fight against drug abuse among university students, for instances political and university leaders, they are the very same people who organize how the drugs will get to their target customers, students, through their agents. Beside, majority of the parents do not care for their children safety during study sessions as they consider them to be adults.”
University counselor II said:
“Policy implementers need to seek partnership with higher learning institutions in order to raise awareness level among all stakeholders on dangers and effects of drug abuse. They should organize campaigns against drug abuse that fully involve university students, parents, lecturers and any other advocate of the strategy.”
Dean of students II had this to say:
“Some parents provide their children with much money while in the university. This could be attributed to deceptions among students to their parents on high living standards in Nairobi. Excess money among students draws them to leisure activities along which one joins a bad company of drug addicts. Also, some students adopt some behaviors from their culture or families. In addition, there have been cases reported in my office where students abuse drugs with perception that it will help them to improve academically or achieve high workload in a short time more especially during examination period. Some of these students approach us when they are already addicts.”
Further, peer counselor I at one point said:
“The reason why some students abuse drugs is to avoid reflecting back family problems more especially when they compare themselves with well financial doings colleagues and when avoided by their peers for their destitute nature. Drug barons targeting youths are also increasing every day and this makes drugs to be available at affordable costs and as well drug accessibility has become easy.”
Majority (74%) of the respondents indicated that excess money among students enable them to buy drugs. This is in agreement with a study conducted by Leong, Kim, and Gupta (2011) in USA that revealed, availability of cash to the youth as pocket money and travel allowances especially if excessive can be redirected into purchasing of drugs. The researchers stated that youth from rich families abuse drugs because they can afford them while those from poor families abuse cheap drugs due to frustrations.
A vast majority (82%) of the students pointed out that availability and accessibility of drugs is a challenge hindering drug abuse reduction in public universities. This was further supported by peer counselor I who noted that drug barons targeting youth increases every day and this makes drugs to be available at affordable costs and as well drug accessibility has become easy. This study finding is in agreement with a cross-sectional study that was carried out by Onifade, Somoye, Ogunwobi and Fadipe (2013) on drug abuse’s consequences and perceived accessibility in three Nigerian universities. The study revealed that drugs such as amphetamine types, solvents, heroin, tranquilizers and cannabis were perceived as easy to get. The study further revealed that some students work in cahoots with watchmen, cooks and cleaners to peddle drugs into the universities. In addition small shops and kiosks built near the universities were in booming business of selling drugs to students. Another study conducted by Masese, Nasongo and Ngesu (2012) on the extent and panacea for drug abuse and indiscipline in Kenyan learning institutions revealed that most of the students who participated in the study used illegal drugs because of their availability. It also revealed that availbility of illegal drugs promoted the interests of those who are in a position to benefit financially from selling them. The researchers argued that if there is easy access of drugs, a student may decide to abuse them despite the governing rules that prohibit the abuse of drugs.
An overwhelming majority (81%) of the respondents reported that peer pressure has hindered effective reduction of drugs abuse among students. This finding concurs with a study that was conducted by Adeoti and Edward (2010) on the factors influencing drug abuse among undergraduate students in Osun State, Nigeria. A sample of 1,200 undergraduate students were randomly selected from three tertiary institutions in Osun State. The findings of the study showed that peer influence was the major factor that influenced substance abuse among undergraduate students.
Poor implementation of drug abuse policies was also rated highly (70%) as a challenge hindering drug abuse reduction among public university students. This was supported by university counselor II who said that policy implementers need to seek partnership with higher learning institutions in order to raise awareness level among all stakeholders on dangers and effects of drug abuse. Nearly two third (65%) of the students indicated that family challenges create hindrances toward reduction of drug abuse among public university students. Dean of students I reported that some parents are also not supportive to reduce drug abuse among their children where they protect them when called in the office. This was also in line with a comment given by peer counselor II that indicated majority of the parents do not care for their children safety during study sessions as they consider them to be adults. Further, peer counselor I said that the reason why some students abuse drugs is to avoid reflecting back family problems more especially when they compare themselves with well financial doings colleagues and when avoided by their peers for their destitute nature. The study finding is in agreement with a study done by Parry et al. (2010) that revealed, most families in Britain are characterised by issues of immorality, spiritual emptiness, lack of direction and purpose in life among other problems. Another study carried out by by Pasche et al. (2010) on 325 undergraduate students’ drug abusers and an equal number of abstainers found out that the drug free students were feeling closer to their parents and highly considered important their parents’ guidance, drug abusers were found to have characteristic such as loneliness, rejection, isolation and constant punishment. In addition, a study conducted Tavolacci etal. (2013) among the undergraduates in Australia revealed that students from disrupted families tend to get involved in drug abuse more easily than those students from functional families.
Slightly more than two third (68%) of the students who were involved in the study reported that low self esteem among students could be a hindrance to drug abuse reduction among public university students. This was further supported by university counselor I who reported that majority of the students who abuse drugs have low self-esteem to an extent of lacking confidence with their great potentials to overcome heads on life challenges. The study finding agrees with a study that was carried out by Kumwenda, Kambala, Mwendera and Kalulu (2011) on examining how low self-esteem influence students in drug abuse. The findings indicated that, self-esteem has to do with an individual’s sense of value or worth and that students with low self-esteem reported to have abused drugs more than those with high self-esteem. Further, Parry, Brook and Kekwaletswe (2010) found that psychological factors such as depressive symptoms, low self-esteem, and poor decision-making together with poor social interactions were highly associated with drug abuse among university students. Other researchers; Abasiubong, Alphonsus and Akinade (2013) and Lee (2012) suggested that health-damaging behaviour such as drug taking might result from low self-esteem reinforced by poor social relationships.
The challenge on bad examples by role models as a hindrance of drug abuse reduction among university students accounted 77% of the respondents who indicated it was “pressing” and “most pressing”. This was supported by peer counselor II who noted that amongst the people who are expected to lead by example in the fight against drug abuse among university students are the very same people who organize how the drugs will get to their target customers, students, through their agents. This is in agreement with Beckerleg, Telfer and Handt (2010); Bhullar, Simon and Joshi (2012) who carried out a study on the rise of injecting drug abuse in East Africa. The studies indicated that students from homes where parents or guardians abuse drugs tended to imitate the behaviour of their parents by taking illegal drugs and that having a parent with a drug problem increased the chances of developing the same problem in the offspring.
Over two third (73%) of the students indicated that academic challenges have made students to abuse drugs. This was further supported by dean of students II who noted that there have been cases reported in the office where students abuse drugs with perception that they would improve academically or achieve high workload within a short time more especially during examination period.
In Kenya, the problem of drug abuse among university students is eminent. This has been believed to be contributed by availability and accessibility of drugs, peer pressure, low self esteem, excess money among students among other contributing factors. Besides, poor policy implementation methods have curtailed the effectiveness of drug reduction strategies that has been set aside to curb this menace in public universities. However, some parents and core individuals like leaders who should serve as role models to young stars in universities towards refraining from drugs and substance abuse are the very same people who introduce and distribute drugs to the students. Therefore, there is a need for all partners to combine their efforts in order to fight against the challenges that hinder reduction of the prevalence of drug abuse among university students.
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