Knowledge, attitudes and practices on drug use among the Makerere University undergraduate students of the College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
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Introduction and Background: Students of higher educational institutions like Universities are at high risk of drug use which is accompanied with physical and /or mental health complications/consequences. Currently, substance use is one of the most burning public health epidemics in Uganda. Although it is known that this public health problem of drug use is a pressing issue, the level of student knowledge, attitudes and practices on the drug use is not yet properly explored among students. Objective: To assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices on drug use among the undergraduate students of the College of Health Sciences Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted to determine the students’ knowledge, attitudes and practices towards drugs use. A proportionate Simple random sampling technique was conducted to select 136 students from the College of Health Sciences from who quantitative data was collected using a pretested semi structured anonymous questionnaire. After collection, this data was cleaned, coded, managed an analyzed using Epi Data version 3.1, StataSE version 13 and Microsoft Excel version 10 to obtain statistical representations from the data. Qualitative data was collected through four in-depth interviews of four randomly chosen from those under study. The data collected through the tape recorder and notes taken was transcribed, coded and manually analysed for those issues that were significant to the study. Results A total number 136 students participated in the study with 76 (55.9%) being male and 60 (44.1%) being female. The majority of these, 109 (80.1%) were between the age of 19- 23 years. Most of the participants in this study were hostellers 54 (39.7%). 125 (91.9%) students had ever received some information about drug use. The drugs that were known most for their harm among these students were marijuana (81.6%), followed by alcohol (75%), tobacco (72.8%), and cocaine (69.1%). 27.2% (37) had ever used an illicit drug before in their life. Of these 37 students, 67.6% (25) were male and the other 33.3% (12) were female. Overall, 60.3 % (82 students) of the students had positive attitudes towards the different factors that are associated with drug use, 8.8% (12 students) had negative attitudes and the other 30.9% (42 students) were neutral or had no idea or comment about the different drugs. This study found that these undergraduate students had fairly good knowledge on drug use. Call for attention is for those who use various drugs because they are at risk of developing substance related disorders in future if they continue using them.