Journal of Education in Developing Economies, 1(2), April 2018
Author: Joyce Pere, The Catholic University of Eastern Africa
P O Box 62157 – 00200, Nairobi – Kenya | E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Drug abuse amongst university students has been escalating at an alarming rate despite having preventive strategies set to curb the situation across the world. This study sought to examine the existing drug prevention interventions set to prevent drug abuse amongst undergraduate students in public universities in Kenya. The study adopted mixed research method, employing both cross sectional survey research design and phenomenological design. Both probability and non probability sampling procedures were used to arrive at the study sample. A sample of 306 respondents was used in the study out of which 300 responded. Questionnaire and interview methods were used to collect data. 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. The 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. Content analysis was used to present the qualitative data.. Qualitative data generated from interviews were categorized in themes in accordance with the research objectives and reported in narrative form along with quantitative presentation. From the analysis, the study found that the key strategies that could be used in drug prevention included drug abuse policy, application of guidance and counselling, and creation of drug awareness. Owing to the challenges that could hinder effective application of drug prevention strategies, the study suggested use of participatory approach in the fight against drug abuse where university fraternity is involved along with the members of community and government.
Keywords: Drug reduction, drug interventions, drug prevention, drug strategies, substance abuse, Drug polices, drug awareness, drug campaign, university drug abuse, university substance abuse, drug guidance and counselling
Interventions have been set across the world to mitigate the abuse of drugs. However, the prevalence continues to escalate at a worrying trend particularly in developing countries. A report by United Nations Drug Campaign Programme (UNDCP, 2010) showed that there was increased cases of drug abuse in developing countries with few interventions towards its prevention and poor implementation of existing policies. Reports from various studies have indicated that the main abusers of these drugs are college and university students. According to World Health Organization (WHO), a population of between 149-472 million people between the ages of 15-64 abuse drug annually and a significant percent (45%) of this population comprised of college and university students (WHO,2011). Various institutions of learning have responded to the problem of drug abuse by developing different preventative strategies which are meant to reduce drug abuse among students. Such preventative measures include; drug abuse policies which work within the international and national drug policies, counselling and health education programmes as well as imposing strict administrative policies among others (Perkins, 2010). The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2009) and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC, 2010) agreed that the main focus of these strategies is to reduce the supply, consumption and demand of alcohol and other drugs among the students from elementary to the university levels. The drug abuse prevention units of UNESCO and UNODC assert that there are three approaches to drug abuse reduction. These include; demand reduction strategies, supply reduction strategies and strategies to mitigate the negative health and social consequences of drug abuse (UNESCO, 2009 & UNODC, 2010).
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). Universities in Nigeria (Abia State University, Anambra State University and Adamawa State University) also 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). The universities also employed strategies such as psycho-education on drug abuse, peer involvement and students’ empowerment strategies. However, these strategies have not been able to reduce drug abuse among young people most of who are in colleges and universities. A study by Holloway and Bennet (2012) indicated that 33% of students in United Kingdom are abusing drugs and in Nigeria, a study by Cockayne and Williams (2012) reveals that most university students in Nigeria (35%) reported to having health problems related to drug abuse. Thus raising the question on how the preventative strategies have influenced reduction of drug abuse.
In Kenya, the government established National Agency for Campaign against Drug Abuse (NACADA) in March 2001. The organisation was given the mandate to provide drug abuse education, develop an action plan and sensitise 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. For example the Catholic University of Eastern Africa has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) and NACADA on the fight against drug abuse among university students. The combined effort to eradicate drug abuse among students led to alcohol and drug abuse awareness walk that was held on the 20th February 2016. The main aim was to sensitize the students, lecturers, teachers, administrators, and the society as a whole on the harmful effects of drug abuse in the education sector. Psycho-education programmes on drug abuse have also been established. The programmes have contributed to individual students understanding of drug abuse which has enhanced self-initiative to stop the abuse. The programmes have also reached the vast majority of young people attending colleges and universities (Muriungi & Ndetei, 2013).
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 counselling departments that deal with students’ personal issues as well as issues that deal with drug abuse (Otingi, 2012). Personal and social skills training in forms of workshops, seminars and open-air campaigns are held frequently in order to equip students with social skills and empower personal responsibility (Muriungi & Ndetei, 2013). These skills are meant to strengthen individual students to withstand peer influence and other social and academic challenges that make most of them to indulge in drug abuse.
Despite numerous attempts to reduce drug abuse, little change has occurred over the past two decades (Oteyo, 2013). Since 1990s, national reports and epidemiological research have revealed an increase in drug abuse among undergraduate students worldwide (Lartey, Watkins & Chahal, 2011). Findings from the National Survey for Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2010) revealed that the rate of the current abuse of illicit drugs among young adults aged 18 to 25 years increased from 19.6% in 2008 to 21.2% in 2009 and 21.5% in 2010.In Kenya, report by NACADA (2012) showed that Nairobi County recorded second highest in cases of students’ drug abuse after Mombasa County. The undergraduate university students accounted for a significant percentage of 25%. The increase and devasting effects of drug abuse among university students have raised major concerns amongst the stakeholders on how the various preventative strategies that have been put in place have contributed to the reduction of drug abuse among students.Thus it is from this background that this study seeks to examine some of the strategies which have been set in public universities to prevent drug abuse amongst undergraduates hence giving a platform for interrogating the effectiveness of these strategies.
The research utilized the mixed techniques design to get unique however complementary information on a similar theme to best comprehend the examination issue, and to unite the contrasting strengths and weaknesses of quantitative strategies with those of the subjective techniques (Creswell & Clark, 2007). Validating quantitative information was utilized, which included gathering quantitative and subjective information inside one study instrument, and after that breaking down the information at the same time. The quantitative research design utilized was cross-sectional study, which was a suitable system for getting data on the nature, assessment and qualities of individuals in order to evaluate at least one populace parameters (Kerlinger, 2002). The qualitative research outline that guided this examination was phenomenology. Phenomenological research seeks essentially to define rather than explain and starts from a perspective free from hypothesis or preconceptions (Creswell, 2014). As a phenomenological design, it enabled the researcher to interact deeply with the studied group in order to obtain detailed and holistic data from the participants’ experiences. 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. 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). Moreover, 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 for a response rate of 95%.
The study applied both probability and non-probability sampling procedures to determine the sample. Purposive sampling method which is a non-probability sampling procedure was used to select the key informant who participated in the study based 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 the universities that took part in the study, the researcher 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 utilized as a part of the examination were questionnaire and interview guides. To ensure that the instruments were substantial, content validity was utilized. Split half technique was utilized to gauge dependability of instruments where a Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient estimation of 0.78 was acquired which is higher than the sensible edge of 0.7, thus, making the instruments to be considered as reliable. Gathered information was investigated utilizing both quantitative and subjective information examination approaches. Quantitative approach included the clear investigations, for example, frequencies and rates. Information from questionnaire were coded and entered in the PC utilizing Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Version 21. Information gathered through interview guide with key source was dissected subjectively. Subjective information created from interviews were ordered in topics as per the examination goals and detailed in story shape alongside quantitative information introduction. The rising topics of concern were coordinated inside the structure of the quantitative investigation.
3.1 Demographic Characteristics
The demographic which were sought 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 Interventions to prevent drug abuse amongst undergraduate students
This study sought to examine the preventive strategies and their effectiveness in curbing drug abuse among undergraduate students in public universities in Nairobi County. Strategies which examined included drug abuse policies, guidance and counselling and drug abuse awareness.
3.2.1 Drug abuse policy
Drug abuse policy was one of the interventions which were set. Students, peer counsellors, dean of students and the university counsellors were presented with items on the existence and implementation of drug abuse policy.
Majority (76.4%) of the students “strongly agreed” and “agreed” that there are drug abuse policies in their universities. another 14.4% of the students “strongly disagreed” and “agreed” while only 9.2% were undecided. With respect to the effective implementation of drug abuse policies in the universities, slightly more than half (50.3%) “Strongly agreed” and “agreed” that the policies are not effectively implemented in universities. Another significant 32.1% of the students “disagreed” and “strongly disagreed” on the effective implementation of the policies implying that they were being implemented effectively. Only 17% were undecided as whether the policies were being implemented or not. This paints a picture of the laxity by most public university administrations in the fight against drug abuse by students in the public universities today
On whether guidance and counselling has helped in avoiding drug abuse, a vast majority (77.5%) of the students “agreed” and “strongly agreed” confirming the statement. Another 14% “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” while only 9% were undecided.
More than two thirds (69.7%) of the respondents “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that guidance and counselling has helped solve problems that led to drug abuse. 19% of them were undecided while only a small percentage “disagreed” and strongly disagreed” with the statement.
A vast majority (77.4%) of the respondents “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that guidance and counselling has helped them to stand against peer pressure. 11.2% of them “disagreed” and “strongly disagreed” with the statement while 11% were undecided.
Pertaining to the indiscipline cases related to drug abuse, nearly two thirds (66.3%) of the respondents “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that most of them were able to settle their indiscipline cases related to drug abuse. Another 21.6% were of a contrary opinion “strongly disagreeing” and “disagreeing” with the statement while only 12% were undecided.
More than two thirds (70%) of the respondents “strongly agreed” and “agreed” that guidance and counselling has helped them reduce drug abuse while 17% were undecided. Only 13.4% of the students “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” with the statement believing otherwise.
70.3% of the respondents “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that guidance and counselling has helped them develop clear communication mechanisms not necessarily dependent on the use of drugs. 18% of them however, “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” with the statement. Only 12% of the respondents were undecided.
More than half (54.3%) of the respondents “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that counselling has enabled them to see the negative side of the drugs thus a negative attitude. Another 27.8% of the respondents “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” with the statement. Only 18% were undecided.
Pertaining to the relationship between the students and their parents, slightly more than two thirds (67.7%) of the students “strongly agreed” and “agreed” that counselling has helped in mending their relationship with their parents. A further 18.7% however, “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” while only 14% were undecided.
Nearly two thirds (66.1%) of the respondents “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that counselling has made them adhere to the drug abuse policies. A significant 21.6% of them however “strongly disagreed” and “disagreed” with the statement stating otherwise. Only 13% were undecided.
On whether guidance and counselling helped in the drug abuse reduction among students in public universities, two thirds (66.6%) of the students “strongly agreed” and “agreed” that guidance and counselling was a vital aspect in the fight against drug abuse in universities today. However a significant percentage (19.6%) of them had a confliction opinion, “strongly disagreeing” and “disagreeing” on the impact of guidance and counselling in the fight against drug abuse in universities. Another 14% were undecided thus depicting the importance of guidance and counselling departments with qualified counsellors in every public university.
Commenting on the effectiveness of guidance and counselling in the reduction of drug abuse among public university students, one of the peer counsellors said:
Guidance and counselling in most cases is not effective the fight against drug abuse since most of the counsellors are not trained to handle issues related to drug abuse. I have seen cases where a student would be counselled but after a while re-embark in the usage (FGD 1)
Disagreeing with the other peer counsellor, another peer counsellor stated that:
Counselling has helped the abusers come to terms with the negativity of abusing drugs and looking at the positivity of not abusing. Further most of the students who were abusing drugs have been on the forefront advocating for abstinence (FGD 1).
Another peer counsellor who asked to comment on the same issue said:
In as much as counselling has proved effective in the recent past, the new generation is hard to deal with. Most of the students that come for counselling are either compelled to do so out of curiosity or just because they were referred to us by the dean of students thus sometimes it difficult to convince these students of the harmful effects of drugs. I believe that change is an intrinsic aspect rather than an extrinsic aspect of human beings. If a drug addict really wants to change, guidance and counselling can prove to be effective rather than changing as a result of the pressure from the external sources (FGD 2).
Another peer counsellor in the same FGD said:
Counselling has been effective to some extent though drug addiction needs more than just counselling. In the four years I have been a counsellor in this university, I have seen many students who have had a change in attitude towards drugs as a result of counselling. These students have also ended up being the ambassadors championing for drug abuse reduction in the university and among their friends.
The university counsellors however were of different opinion disagreeing with the views of the peer counsellors on the effectiveness of guidance and counselling. During the interview, university counsellor 1 stressed that:
Counselling is not mainly an investigative department but a corrective process and has proved effective in the fight against drug abuse in this university. Some of the students I have seen go through counselling have reduced the intake while others have completely got rid of the drugs and rebuilding a drug-free life.
Commenting on the same issue during an interview, Dean II said that:
Without guidance and counselling it is difficult to deal with drug abuse. The office of the dean is not really a disciplinary office as most people think. I try to talk to the students who abuse drugs and then refer them for counselling in the counselling department. The counselling department gives the feedback and if the student does not change, then we hand him over to the later disciplinary committee. No student can be suspended or expelled without having gone through counselling process, the parents of the students or guardians are normally involved, sometime we help the parents on how students can be helped. Drug abuse is a disease and so when we punish the drug abuser it makes things worse.
3.2.3 Drug Abuse Awareness
The respondents were asked to indicate the influence of drug awareness on drug abuse reduction among University students. The Results are summarised in Table 3.
With regards to whether university organized drug abused awareness workshops reduced drug abuse, slightly more than a third (36.3%) of the students indicated to “no extent”. However a third (33%) of the students indicated to some extent.
Whether drug abuse awareness had made some students stop abusing drugs, 35%, 27.4% and 23.9% of the students indicated to “some extent”, “larger extent” and “little extent” respectively ,however, only a small percentage (13.7%) indicated to “no extent”. This showed that drug abuse awareness significantly contributed to reduction in the abuse of drugs among university students.
Concerning the drug abuse awareness effect on the reduction of usage of drugs by students, there were mixed reactions. More than a third (39.5%) of the students indicated to “some extent”. Another 25.8% and 23.2% of them indicated to a “large extent” and “little extent” respectively. However, only 11.4% of them were of the contrary opinion.
More than a third (38.5%) of the students indicated that awareness of the effects of drug abuse reduced the prevalence to “some extent”. Moreover 29.1% of the students indicated to a “little extent”. 21.6% of them indicated to “large extent” while only a small percentage (10.8%) of them indicated to “no extent”.
With reference to the health related problems resulting from drug abuse, 39.9% of the students were of the opinion that drug abuse awareness reduced health related problems to “some extent”. 25.8% of them believed that the awareness accounted for the reduction to a “little extent” while 24.2% of them were of the idea that it accounted to a “larger extent”. 10.1% of the students were of the contrary opinion believing that the awareness did not contribute to the reduction in health related problems associated with drug abuse.
Regarding the reduction in drug abuse related accidents among university students as a result of awareness, more than a third (40.2%) of the students indicated to “some extent”. 25.5% and 22.9% of them indicated to “little extent” and “large extent” respectively. Only 11.4% of the students indicated to “no extent”.
Asked whether drug abuse awareness had reduced indiscipline cases related to abuse, more than a third (36.9%) of the students said to “some extent”. Another 25.5% of the students said to a “little extent”.
More than a third (38.6%) of the students indicated that drug abuse awareness has reduced violence cases among the students in the university. A further 25.2% of them indicated to a “larger extent” while 24.2% of them indicated to a “little extent”. 12.1% of the students believed that the awareness had no effect on the drug related violence among students.
On whether drug abuse awareness helped in the reduction of drug abuse among public university students, more than a third (35.9%) of the students indicated that they helped to “some extent”. Another 23.2% of them believed that awareness contributed to drug abuse reduction to a “little extent” while 21.9% of them indicated to a “large extent”. 19% of them believed otherwise indicating to “no extent”. This showed that awareness is critical in the fight against drug abuse in public universities. Knowledge of the effects of drugs is a powerful tool that has proved important in the fight.
During focus group discussion, 12 out of the 20 peer counsellors concurred with the students that the awareness has reduced drug abuse in public universities to some extent. Explaining the situation a peer counsellor in FGD one went to say:
The use of drugs has been rampant in this university since we are situated in the central business district (CBD). This therefore prompted the university to organize awareness seminar every semester which has so far proved to be efficient as some of the students are slowly seeking help to deal with the addiction problems.
He went on to say:
Students have come to understand the dangers and the effects drug abuse has on their lives and so they shun them. Moreover, most of the students are now aware thus opening the minds of the students with a completely different opinion.
Another peer counsellor commenting on the same issue stated that:
I can say that the awareness has been instrumental since a good number of students have reconsidered using drugs for fear of falling victims to the health related complications or a result of death. These programs are good and universities and secondary schools alike should consider creating awareness among their students in order to ensure the future of our next generation. Drug abuse awareness has been instrumental in the fight against drug abuse in public universities in Nairobi County though there are some other measures that have proved to be fruitful in the drug abuse fight.
During an interview with the counsellors, counsellor from university A stated that:
Creating drug abuse awareness has discouraged many students from abusing drugs. We have posters on our notice boards warning on drug abuse, possession, trafficking and consumption of alcohol and other drugs within the campus is prohibited which I think has to some extent influenced the use of drugs in our university.
Commenting on the same issue, Counsellor B said:
Drug abuse awareness has helped many students who haven’t engaged in the drug abuse have confessed that awareness has really enlightened many of them on the dangers of the use of drugs thus most of them engaged.
This was supported by Dean I who stated:
Based on the reports received by the students they appreciated the awareness campaigns. They are grateful to have undergone this kind of training as they are now aware of drug abuse and the resulting consequences.
Dean II commenting on the effectiveness of awareness stated that:
We carry out drug abuse seminars, we invite resource persons and motivational speakers to talk to the continuing students during orientation for the new students whereby first year students are educated and informed on drug abuse and its effects in addition lectures talk to students during lectures. I can say these measures have been effective in the reduction of drug abuse though it’s difficult to clean it completely. In addition complains from lectures and students concerning alcoholism and smoking has reduced and there a few cases of absenteeism in the last three years which I can attribute to tough measures we have taken.
Effective prevention strategies are critically important in the efforts to reduce drug abuse among students (Edwards, Roberts, Clarke, Diguiseppi, Pratap & Wentz, 2010).In this study,different preventive strategies were examined to determine their influence on drug abuse reduction amongst undergraduate students in public universities.On drug abuse awareness,Nearly two thirds (62.4%) of the students indicated that drug abuse awareness help in the reduction of drug intake frequency to “large extent” and “some extent” ,this findings is in agreement with a study carried out in United Kingdom among Kingston university students which revealed that drug abuse awareness reduced the rate of drug abuse (Boneli, Dew, Koenig, Rosmarin and Vasegh, 2012).
A vast majority (76.4%) of the students “strongly agreed” and “agreed” that there are drug abuse policies in their universities. This agrees with findings of a study carried out in USA which revealed that 97% of learning institutions had written drug abuse policies (Agrawal, Everett and Sharma, 2010). However slightly more than half (50.3%) “Strongly agreed” and “agreed” that the drug abuse policies are not effectively implemented in their universities. This was corroborated by a study carried out in USA where 40% of the respondents agreed that the policies were ineffective (Agrawal, Everett, and Sharma 2010).
Guidance and counselling services was also found to be a key intervention on drug reduction. Two thirds (66.6%) of the students “strongly agreed” and “agreed” that guidance and counselling was a vital aspect in the fight against drug abuse in public universities. More than two thirds (70%) of the respondents “strongly agreed” and “agreed” that guidance and counselling has helped them reduce drug abuse.This however contradicts the findings of a study carried out by Flansburg (2012) on the factors involved in college students’ use of counselling services in Atlanta Georgia where more than half (65%) of college students viewed counselling and psychotherapy as uncomfortable, upsetting, risky and tough for students to engage in. Slightly more than two thirds (67.8%) of the students “agreed” and “strongly agreed” that lack of positive self-image among university students significantly contributed to them using drugs to boost their image,this therefore means building positive personal image is vital in preventing drug abuse amongst students since it will enhance comfidence and self esteem.Students positive image can be built through guidance and counselling.
It is evident from this study that strategies to prevent drug abuse amongst undergraduates have been established in most universities worldwide.These strategies have to an extent helped to mitigate the spread of drug abuse prevalence. However, there still exists gaps in fully implementing the strategies for effective drug reduction amongst undergraduates in public universities. Lack of effective implementation is indeed a major concern in the fight against drug abuse. Implementation of the drug abuse preventive strategies is marred with discrepancies such as corruption, lack of sensitization policies, negative attitudes and lack of support from the relevant authorities as a result of the laxity of the university administrations and education stakeholders involved in the formulation of sensitization strategies to address the drug abuse menace eating into the public universities today. The university administrations should identify the roles and responsibilities of staff in implementing and evaluating education for drug abuse prevention programmes and policies for managing drug-related incidents
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