Author(s): Measho Gebreslassie, Amsalu Feleke, Tesfahun Melese
Background The use of substances such as alcohol, khat leaves and tobacco have long been recognized as one of the leading causes of human suffering and become one of the rising major public health and socio-economic problems worldwide. Even though substances use occurs in all segments of all societies, it is more spreading in an alarming rate among the young generation. This study aimed to establish the prevalence and associated factors of substances use among undergraduate students in Axum University. Methods Institution based quantitative cross sectional study design was conducted among Axum University students in April 2012. A sample of 764 students was selected by using multi- stage sampling technique. Data were collected using pre- tested self- administered questionnaires. The data were cleaned, coded, entered into EPI-INFO version 3.5.1 and transferred and analysed using SPSS computer soft ware package version 20. Results The lifetime prevalence of khat chewing, alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking among the study participants were 28.7%, 34.5% and 9.5% respectively. Similarly, the current prevalence of khat chewing, alcohol drinking and cigarette smoking were 27.9%, 32.8% and 9.3% respectively. The commonest reasons for khat, alcohol and cigarette using were to keep alert while reading 40.6%, for relaxation 65.5% and to relief stress 37.7% respectively. Having peer friends who chew khat was strongly and positively associated with khat use [AOR: 10.18, 95%CI: (5.59, 18.54)].Family members and peer friends alcohol use were strongly associated with alcohol drinking [AOR: 2.61, 95%CI: (1.56, 4.34) and [AOR: 14, 95%CI: (8.09, 24.24)] respectively. Ever alcohol use was strongly associated with cigarette smoking [AOR: 6.54, 95%CI: (2.66, 16.05)]. Conclusion This study revealed that psychoactive substances use became an urgent problem among undergraduate university students. Universities need to monitor and teach their students with special focus on fresh man students, about the health risks and socioeconomic problems associated with psychoactive substances use.