Drug use among university students in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sections

ABSTRACT
Introduction
Method
Results

Details

Author: F. V. DE CARVALHO
Pages: 37 to 40
Creation Date: 1986/01/01

Drug use among university students in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil

F. V. DE CARVALHO Professor of Pharmacology, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil

ABSTRACT

A survey of drug use carried out from April 1984 to May 1985 at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, showed that of 2,475 undergraduate students surveyed, 588 respondents, or 23.8 per cent, abused drugs at some time in their lives. Drug use was somewhat more common among males (25.3 per cent) than among females (21.5 per cent). Among the drug users, the use of cannabis ranked first (41.2 percent), followed by amphetamines (27.4 per cent), cocaine (12-2 per cent), tranquillizers (12.2 per cent), barbiturates (5.6 per cent), morphine and heroin (0.8 per cent) and lysergic acid diethylamide (0,5 percent). Of the total number of respondents, 10 per cent were current habitual drug users, while 13.8 per cent had at some time been drug users but were no longer using drugs at the time of the survey. Of 23 post graduate students surveyed, 10 respondents, or 43.5 per cent, used either cannabis, amphetamines or tranquillizers.

Introduction

Many research studies of drug use among students have been carried out in different countries and at different levels of education. Surveys have been conducted on drug use among secondary school students in Mexico [ 1] , Mexico and Canada [ 2] , Nigeria [ 3] , [ 4] and Zambia [ 5] and among university students in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil [ 6] , [ 7] .

There has not been enough information available on the nature and extent of drug use among university students in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to help those responsible for making policy decisions or planning drug abuse preventive measures. In an effort to contribute to the better understanding of the extent of drug use in this population, a survey of drug use was carried out from April 1984 to May 1985 at the University of Sao Paulo. The results of the survey are summarized in this article.

Method

The survey of drug use undertaken among students on the campus of the University City at Sao Paulo covered 2,475 undergraduate students from nine faculties and 23 post-graduate students. A questionnaire was distributed to students for completion after lectures at the university. While the questionnaire was being distributed, it was made clear to the students that the survey was anonymous and confidential.

Results

Drug use among undergraduate students

Of the 2,475 undergraduates surveyed, 588 respondents, or 23.8 per cent, claimed to have abused drugs at some time in their lives, while 1,887, or 76.2 per cent, claimed to have never abused drugs. Of the students who used drugs, 247 respondents, or 10 per cent of the total number of respondents, were current habitual drug users, while the remaining 341 students, or 13.8 per cent, stated that they were no longer using drugs at the time of the survey. Among the respondents who had stopped using drugs, the highest percentage was in the age group "over 25 years" and the lowest was in the age group "under 20 years".

Table 1 shows the drugs used by the students and the extent of their use. Among the drug users, the use of cannabis ranked first (41.2 per cent), followed by amphetamines (27.4 per cent), cocaine (12.2 per cent), tranquillizers (12.2 per cent), barbiturates (5.6 per cent), morphine and heroin (0,8 per cent) and lysergic acid diethylamide (0.5 per cent). By comparison, Murad [ 6] , [ 7] found that 24.1 per cent of those students questioned in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, abused drugs; the use of amphetamines ranked first among users (39.6 per cent), followed by cannabis (30.6 per cent), tranquillizers (12.6 per cent), cocaine (10.1 per cent), barbiturates (7.3 per cent) and lysergic acid diethylamide (1.8 per cent).

Table 1

Number and percentage of respondents who used drugs, by substance

Substance

Number of users

Percentage

Morphine
3 0.5
Heroin
2 0.3
Cocaine
72 12.2
Cannabis
242 41.2
Lysergic acid diethylamide
3 0.5
Amphetamines
161 27.4
Barbiturates
33 5.6
Tranquillizers
72 12.2

It should be noted that 22.5 per cent of the drug users in the survey used two, three or more substances.

Table 2 shows that of the undergraduate students who used drugs, 37.1 per cent were females and 62.9 per cent males, but the sex-specific percentage rate of drug use was 25.3 per cent for males and 21.5 per cent for females. The latter indicates a relatively small difference in the rates of drug use for male and female students.

Table 2

Distribution of non-users and users of drugs, by sex

Sex

Number of non-users

Percentage

Number of users

Percentage

Female
795 42.1 218 37.1
Male
1092 57.9 370 62.9
Total
1887 76.2 588 23.8

Drug use among post-graduate students

The post-graduate group was made up of 23 students who were enrolled in a course entitled "Study of Brazilian problems". In this group, 10 respondents, or 43.5 per cent, used either cannabis, amphetamines or tranquillizers, but the number of respondents was too small to permit any general conclusions.

References

001

M. E. Medina-Mora and others, "Validity and reliability of a high school drug use questionnaire among Mexican students", Bulletin on Narcotics (United Nations publication), vol. 33, No. 4 (1981), pp. 67-76.

002

M. E. Castro, M. Valencia and R. G. Smart, "Drug and alcohol use, problems and availability among students in Mexico and Canada", Bulletin on Narcotics United Nations publication), vol. 31, No. 1 (1979), pp.41-48.

003

J. Nevadomsky, "Patterns of self-reported drug use among secondary school students in Bendel State, Nigeria", Bulletin on Narcotics (United Nations publication), vol. 33, No. 1 (1981), pp. 9-19.

004

J. Nevadomsky, "Self-reported drug use among secondary school students in two rapidly developing Nigerian towns", Bulletin on Narcotics (United Nations publication), vol. 34, Nos. 3 and 4 (1982), pp. 21-32.

005

A. Haworth, "A preliminary report on self-reported drug use among students in Zambia", Bulletin on Narcotics (United Nations publication), vol. 34, Nos. 3 and 4 (1982), pp. 45-60.

006

J. E. Murad, "Drug abuse among students in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil", Bulletin on Narcotics (United Nations publication), vol. 31 , No. 1 (1979), pp. 49-58.

007

J. E. Murad, "Farmacodependencia em Minas Gerais ", Revista do Instituto de Medicina Social e de Criminologia de Sao Paulo, vol. V, No. 2 (1982), pp. 18-38.