Perceptions of the university students on substance abuse among the youth: a case study of KwaZulu-Natal.
Gasa, Hlengiwe Prisca.
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Substance abuse is a critical challenge among youth in South Africa today. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of university students on the surrounding influencing factors of substance abuse amongst young people at University of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa. Methodology: Qualitative data was gathered through in-depth interviews and focus groups to obtain views from campus resident students from two UKZN Campuses namely Howard College and Westville. 8 in-depth interviews were conducted, with 4 females (2 from the Howard College and 2 from Westville) and 4 males (2 from Westville and 2 from Howard College). 2 focus groups were conducted at both campuses consisting of 6 participants each (3 males and 3 females in each). Results: The findings revealed that there are various kind of substances that are abused by university students, which include codeine, marijuana (weed) and alcohol. There is a frequent use of these substances leading to the normalization of substance abuse among university students. Students are influenced by various factors such as peer pressure, stress and depression. Most importantly, the results showed that substance abuse is a kind of behaviour that they either learn or do intentionally, despite their foreknowledge of the negative effects and the risk factors. The study concludes that university students are very aware of the various negative effects of substance abuse, but they mostly justify it as way of coping with academic pressure. There is an acknowledgement that the use of substances among young students seems to be high considering the level of freedom they might have being far away from monitoring parents and guardians. Conclusion: The study revealed that substance abuse among young university students may increase rather than deteriorate, if necessary measures are not put in place to curtail the trend. Therefore, there is an immense need to ensure solutions towards the eradication of substance abuse among UKZN students and youth in South Africa.