Drug use among adolescents in Asturias (Spain)

Sections

ABSTRACT
Introduction
Method
Results
Age of drug users
Drugs used "ever"
Use of drugs in the last 12 months before the survey
Use of drugs in the last 30 days before the survey
Drug use and school grade
Discussion

Details

Author: R. HINOJAL FONSECA, , J. BOBBES GARCÍA, E. HEVIA RODRÉGUEZ
Pages: 43 to 48
Creation Date: 1985/01/01

Drug use among adolescents in Asturias (Spain)

R. HINOJAL FONSECA, Department of Forensic Medicine
J. BOBBES GARCÍA Department of Psychiatry and Psychologyand
E. HEVIA RODRÉGUEZ Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Oviedo, Spain

ABSTRACT

A survey of drug use, based on a sample of 2,537 school students in the l5 - l7 year age group selected from 11 schools in central Asturias (Spain), showed that 697 respondents, or 29.l per cent, were drug users. Cannabis was the most widely abused drug : 500 respondents, or 20.8 per cent of the total sample, became involved with this drug at some time in their lives. The percentages of the total sample show that the use of cannabis at any time ("ever" use) was followed by use of: tranquillizers (l0.3 per cent), amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances (7.9 per cent), inhalants (2.3 per cent), hallucinogens (2.0 per cent), sedatives (l.7 per cent), opiates (l.4 per cent) and cocaine ( l.2 per cent). Males were generally more involved with drugs than females were. The average age at first drug use was l5.4 for males and l5.5 for females.

Introduction

Over the last five years, various dependence-producing substances have been experimented with and a bused by adolescents in Asturias. In order to determine the magnitude and patterns of drug use, the authors undertook a survey of school students in the 15 - l7-year age group [ 1] - [ 5] and compared their findings with those reported by other authors on the subject [ 6] - [ l3] . The results of this study are intended to help in understanding some of the problems of drug use among adolescents in order to combat such problems more effectively.

Method

A self-reporting questionnaire of the World Health Organization [ l4] was translated by the authors from English into Spanish and used as a research instrument in this survey. The Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) test was also used to check the sincerity of responses. These two research instruments were administered to a sample of 2,537 students in the 15 - 17 year age group who attended general secondary schools or pre-university courses in central Asturias, which included the following six most populated areas: Oviedo, Aviles, Gijón, Sama, Mieres and Grado. The survey covered eight State and two private secondary schools, and the Oviedo National Polytechnic Institute.

The questionnaires were distributed anonymously and respondents completed them on a voluntary basis. The students were informed that the results were to be used for research purposes; 140 completed questionnaires (5.5 per cent) were excluded from the analysis because the responses were below the minimum rating on the EPI Sincerity scale.

Results

With the exception of one girl's school, all other schools covered by the survey were co-educational. After excluding 140 questionnaires with "insincere" responses, 2,397 questionnaires were analysed of which 1,034 (43.1 per cent) had been completed by males and l,363 (56.9 per cent) by females. The survey revealed that 697 students in the total sample were drug users (see Table 1). Drug use was classified according to the following three categories: used "ever"; used in the last 12 months before the survey; and used in the last 30 days before the survey.

Table 1

Distribution of drug users and non-users by sex

 

Males

Females

Total

Respondents

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Drug users
385 37.2 312 22.9 697 29.1
Non-users
649 62.8 1051 77.1 1700 70.9
Total
1034 100.0 1363 100.0 2397 100.0

Age of drug users

The average age of drug users in the total sample was 16.7 years for males and 16.9 years for females. The average age at first drug use was 15.4 years for males and 15.5 years for females.

The average age at first use differed significantly from one substance to another. For example, the average age at first use of "hard drugs" was 16.4 years and of inhalants 14.7 years.

Drugs used "ever"

Table 2 shows that cannabis was the most frequent drug used "ever": 500 respondents, or 20.8 per cent of the total sample became involved with this drug at some time in their lives. In this category of users of cannabis, 304 were male students or 29.4 per cent of the total male sample and 194 female students or 14.4 per cent of the total female sample.

The figures given in table 2, expressed in percentages of the total sample, show that the use of tranquillizers ranked second (10.3 percent), followed by amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances (7.9 per cent), inhalants (2.3 per cent), hallucinogens (2.0 per cent), sedatives (1.7 per cent), opiates (1.4 per cent) and Cocaine (l.2 per cent). Male students were more frequent users of all substances except sedatives, which were used more frequently by females.

Table 2

Number of episodes of drug use by students at some time in life a

Substance

Males

Females

Total

Cannabis
304 196 500
Cocaine
20 8 28
Amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances
127 63 190
Hallucinogens
33 14 47
Inhalants
35 21 56
Tranquillizers
129 117 246
Sedatives
13 27 40
Opiates
23 11 34

a Also counting the use of more than one substance by some respondents.

Use of drugs in the last 12 months before the survey

Table 3 shows that in the last 12 months before the survey, cannabis remained the most widely used drug (15.6 per cent of the total sample). Measured by the percentages of the total sample, the use of tranquillizers ranked second (7.4 per cent), followed by amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances (5.9 per cent), hallucinogens (1.7 per cent), inhalants (l.4 per cent), opiates (l.0 per cent), cocaine (0.6 per cent) and Sedatives (0.5 per cent).AS in the previous category, male students were more heavily involved.

Table 3

Number of episodes of drug use by students in the last 12 months a

Substance

Males

Females

Total

Cannabis
251 124 375
Cocaine
10 5 15
Amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances
103 39 142
Hallucinogens
28 14 42
Inhalants
17 16 33
Tranquillizers
100 78 178
Sedatives
9 2 11
Opiates
16 9 25

a Also counting the use of more than one substance by some respondents.

Use of drugs in the last 30 days before the survey

In the last 30 days before the survey, 121 students used Cannabis (or 5.0 per cent of the total sample). The percentages of the total sample (see Table 4) show that cannabis was followed by that of tranquillizers (1.9 per cent), amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances (1.8 per cent), inhalants (0.6 per cent), opiates (0.4 per cent), hallucinogens (0.3 per cent), sedatives (0.3 per cent) and Cocaine (0.1 per cent).

Table 4

Number of episodes of drug use by students in the last 30 days a

Substance

Males

Females

Total

Cannabis
91 30 121
Cocaine
1 1 2
Amphetamines and amphetamine-like substances
29 14 43
Hallucinogens
4 4 8
Inhalants
9 6 15
Tranquillizers
25 21 46
Sedatives
4 4 8
Opiates
4 5 9

a Also counting the use of more than one substance by some respondents.

Drug use and school grade

The rates of drug use among students were higher in upper school classes in all three categories.

Discussion

The results obtained by this survey are generally compatible with the findings reported by other researchers. The differences that were found in specific rates of drug use could be mainly attributed to differences in geographical distribution , socio-cultural characteristics and age of respondents [ 2] - [ 12] , [ 15] - [ 17] .

A study conducted by the City Council of Salamanca showed that most of the adolescents in the 13 - 15 -year age group surveyed in the study began using drugs at the age of 13 or 14 years [ 8] , [ 16] , while according to other studies [ 9] , [ 17] the age at which adolescents started to take drugs was similar to that reported in the present survey.

The much higher rate of d rug use among males than among females found in the present survey corresponds to the findings reported by other authors [ 2] , [ 13] , [ 16] . The finding that cannabis was the predominant drug used was also in agreement with the results reported by other authors [ 2] , [ 3] , [ 5] , [ 7] , [ l2] . One study reviewed by the authors reported that cannabis was the substance most frequently used by males and tranquillizers the one most commonly used by females [ 18] . The present survey showed that tranquillizers were the second most common drug used by female students.

References

01

l. R. Hinojal Fonseca, Aspectos Médico-Legales de las Toxicodependencias (Oviedo, Librería Médica, l98l).

02

R. Hinojal Fonseca and others, " Estudio del consumo de drogas en estudiantes universitarios (diplomados en enfermeria)", Proceedings, IV Jornadas Toxicológicas Españolas (León , l98l).

03

R. Hinojal Fonseca and others, Estudio del Uso de Drogas en Estudiantes de Medicina, Estudio actualizado sobre Toxicomanias , vol. II (Oviedo, Colegio Oficial de Médicos de Asturias, l98l).

04

R. Hinojal Fonseca and others, "Estudio prospectivo de las toxicodependencias en Asturias", Medicina Clinica , vol. 78, No. l0 (l980), pp. 437 - 441.

05

R. Hinojal Fonseca and others, "Estudio del consumo de drogas en adolescentes de un área asturiana : Gijón", Medicina Clinica , vol. 80, No. 3, l983.

06

B. Ferrer, I. Abad and G. del Olmo, "Incidencia del consumo de drogas en adolescentes", Boletin de la Sociedad Canaria de Pediatria , year XIV, No. l (1980), pp. l - 50.

07

F. Marquinez Bascones and others, Investigación Epidemiológica Aplicada a la Prevencióny Asistencia de las Toxicomanias (Drogo-dependencia) en la Provincia de Vizcaya (Bilbao, Department of Health and Social Security Studies, December l980).

08

Ayuntamiento de Salamanca, "Análisis de la problemética de la droga en los centros escolares de Salamanca", El Médico, l984, pp. 4 - 84.

09

A . Calafat Far and others, "Consumo de alcohol, tabaco y otras drogas entre estudiantes de enseñanza media y formación profesional de Mallorca", Drogalcohol, vol. 9, No. 3 (1982), pp. 37 - 46.

10

D. Queipo Buron and others, "Consumo de alcohol, tabaco y drogas en el medio universitario de Valladolid", Proceedings, V Jornadas Toxicológicas Españolas (Madrid, l983).

11

L. Cancrini, Esperienze di una ricerca sulle tossicomanie giovanili in Italia (Milan, Arnaldo Mondadori, l973), pp. 35 - 45.

12

Grupo Universitario Multicentrico, "Consumo de drogas enel medio universitario ", Medicina Clinica, vol. 75, No. 8 (l980), pp. 3l7 - 326.

13

Directorate-General for Youth and Socio-Cultural Advancement, Juventudy y drogaen España (Madrid, Ministry of Culture, l980).

14

World Health Organization, A Methodology for Student Drug Use Surveys (Geneva, WHO Offset Publication No. 50, 1980).

15

C. D. Chambers and G. L. Hunt, Epidemiology of Drug Abuse:Clinical and Basic Aspects (St. Louis, C. V. Mosby Company, 1977).

16

E. Beruelt and others, "Mesure de la consommation de cannabis dans un échantillon d'écoliers et d'étudiants de la région bruxelloise ", Archives belges de médecine sociale, hygiène, médecine du travail et médecine légale, l982, pp. 293 - 300.

17

P. Fishburne, H. I. Abelson and O. H . Cisin, The National Survey on Drug Abuse, Main Funding,1979 (Washington, D. C., United States Government Printing Office, 1980).

18

I . Garrido and others, "Editorial", Tribuna Médica, vol. 19, 1982, p. 943.