Drug abuse among students in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Sections

Introduction
Method
Results
Discussion and conclusions

Details

Author: Jose Elias MURAD,
Pages: 49 to 58
Creation Date: 1979/01/01

Drug abuse among students in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Jose Elias MURAD,
Professor of Pharmacology, Dean, School of Pharmacy and School of Medical Science, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Introduction

In Brazil, as in many other countries, drug abuse by youth has been increasing, especially during the last decade. Two surveys were undertaken in order to assess the extent of drug abuse: one among secondary school students (corresponding to junior and senior high schools in the United States), and the other among university students, by means of an anonymous self-reporting questionnaire.

Method

A 12-item questionnaire was prepared containing questions relating to nationality, age, sex, grade, drugs abused and/or used, period of use, reasons for use and effect of lectures on future drug use behaviour. The questionnaire was administered to students on a voluntary basis after the author had given lectures on drugs of abuse and their effects. The surveys were carried out among: ( a) secondary school students residing in ten towns of the Minas Gerais State, especially the capital Belo Horizonte, during the years 1972-1973 and ( b) students attending seven university schools in Belo Horizonte during 1974 and early 1975.

The high school students completed 1,700 questionnaires; of these approximately 2 per cent had to be discarded because of inconsistent information. University students completed 536 questionnaires.

Results

(a) Drug use among high school students

Among the 1,700 questionnaires received, 16 per cent of the high school students reported having used drugs that cause dependence; 84 per cent of them stated they had never used such drugs (figure 1). Distribution of users by age is presented in figure 2. Some respondents were attending evening high school which explains the rather high proportion of students in this group who were over 20 years of age. For various reasons they were unable to complete high school at an earlier age. A relatively high percentage of female users was represented among the respondents. Of the 515 female students 88 reported taking drugs (17 per cent). There were 176 drug users among the total of 1,149 male students (15 per cent). Thus approximately 33 per cent of the users were female students (figure 3).

FIGURE 1

Drug use among high school students, 84 per cent do not use drugs,16 per cent use drugs

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   FIGURE 1

Drug use among male high school students by drug is presented in figure 4. As was more or less expected, amphetamines (" bolinhas" in Brazilian slang) ranked first (37 per cent), followed by marijuana (29 per cent), tranquillizers (24 per cent), barbiturates (8 per cent) and others. Only two cases of morphine use were reported and none of heroin use.

The reasons for use are set out in figure 5. Curiosity was stated by 42 per cent of respondents as the reason for their use of drugs; drug taking on medical prescription was indicated by 37 per cent. It is very interesting to note that "imitation, escape and rebellion" were cited only by a very low percentage of the respondents (4 per cent).

(b) Drug use among university students

Of the 536 respondents, 129 or 24.1 per cent reported using drugs of abuse (figure 6). The percentage of users in various university schools is illustrated in figure 7. The most frequently used drugs are presented in figure 8. As in the case of high school students, the use of amphetamines ranked first (39.6 per cent), followed by marijuana (30.6 per cent), tranquillizers (12.6 per cent), others (10.1 per cent), barbiturates (7.3 per cent) and LSD (1.8 per cent). No case of heroin or morphine use was reported.

Curiosity was stated by 52.2 per cent of the respondents as the reason for their use of drugs; drug taking on medical prescription was indicated by 23.4 per cent; escape, rebellion, protest etc. by 13.5 per cent; personal problems by 9 per cent and imitation by 1.8 per cent.

 

Drugs use

Age

Yes

No

% use

Less than 20
75 571 29
20 to 25
140 609 54
More than 25
43 217 17
TOTAL
258 *
1 397 100

6 users did not indicate their age.

FIGURE 2

Drug use among high school students by age

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   FIGURE 2

Sex

Number of drug users

Percentage

Male
176 67
Female
88 33

FIGURE 3

Drug use by sex among high school students

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   FIGURE 3

Drugs

Quantity

Percentage

Morphine
2 1
Heroine
0  
Marijuana
52 29
Barbiturates
14 8
LSD
2
l
Tranquillizers
43 24
Amphetamines
63 37

FIGURE 4

Drug use among male high school students by drug

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   FIGURE 4

FIGURE 5

Reasons for use of drugs among high school students

* Note: Various = imitation, escape, rebellion

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   FIGURE 5

FIGURE 6

Drug use among 536 university students of Belo Horizonate

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   FIGURE 6

FIGURE 7

Percentage of persons using drugs in university schools of belo Horizonte, Brazil

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   FIGURE 7

Discussion and conclusions

The surveys revealed that drug abuse among youth is relatively high, extending from some 16 per cent of secondary students to 24 per cent of university students. The students most affected are those above 20 years of age (69 per cent). It should be remembered that in the Latin-American countries the ties between the families and youth under 18 years of age are very strong and the young, both boys and girls, do not have enough liberty and/or money to acquire or use illegal drugs.

Curiosity ranked first amongst the reasons which lead youth to use drugs; drug-taking on medical prescription ranked second, followed by personal problems, especially those relating to the family.

Finally, as stated above, drugs are used more among university students than among students of secondary school level.

FIGURE 8

Drugs most abused by university students

(In percentages)

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   FIGURE 8

FIGURE 9

Reasons for the use of drugs among university students

(In percentages)

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   FIGURE 9

References

001

.J.E. Murad. O que você deve saber sobre os psicotrópicos. A via gem sem bilhete de volta. CFF. CRF-6 e Ass. Min. de Farmac., Belo Horizonte, 1972.

002

J.E. Murad, L.M. Oliveira, O. Costa Filho and J.A. Dias Moreira. O abuso de drogas em Minas Gerais. Levantamento estatistico - Publicação Rotary Club BH, Belo Horizonte, 1974.

003

J.E. Murad and O. Costa Filho. The drug abuse among university students in Brazil. Abstracts of the Sixth Int. Cong. of Pharmacology, Helsinki, Finland, 1975.