Edward Masinde Juma, Lister Onsongo, Catherine Mwenda



Background: The use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other psychoactive substances among the youth is a major public health concern worldwide. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of culture, acculturation, family history of substance abuse, and family functioning on youth alcohol and substance abuse in Mombasa, Kenya.

Methods: The study adopted a cross sectional descriptive study design. Study participants were youth aged between 18 and 35 years participating in the Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) program at Kisauni. Interviewer administered questionnaire were used to collect data. Data was analyzed descriptively and inferentially using statistical package for social science (SPSS) version 25 software. Chi-square and Fishers exact were used to compare variables between groups. A p value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: A total of 259 youth participated in this study of whom majority (66.8%) were male. The mean age of participants was 29 years. The proportion of female drug users decreased with increase in age while that of male increased with increase in age. The main drugs abused were cigarettes (64.2%), marijuana/bang (60.8%), alcohol (58.1%), cocaine (57.3%) khat (51.2%), and traditional brew (33.1%). Heroin was abused by all participants. Abuse of cigarettes (P=0.009) and cocaine (p=0.005) was associated with the male gender. Culture was found to influence youth into alcohol and drug abuse with male youth being the most abusers of drugs. However, higher proportions of female youth were found to abuse alcohol compared to male youth.

Conclusions: Culture was found to influence youth into alcohol and drug abuse with male youth being the most abusers of drugs. Acculturations factors contributing to alcohol and substance abuse included exposure of youths to movies and media glorifying alcohol and substance abuse. History of having a guardian and siblings indulging in alcohol and substance abuse exposed the youths to abuse while receiving comfort, advice, and love from parents were some indicators of family function that were found to influence youth into drug abuse. Policies should be put in place by the government with aim of controlling the media content promoting alcohol and substance abuse. Also family therapy should be part of the services provided to parents/guardians with the aim of educating them on youth handling as well as improving the bond with their children which aim at reducing youth exposure to drugs.


Adolescent, youth, Alcohol and Substance Abuse

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