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Substance Abuse and Its Relationship with Household Dysfunction and Psychological Distress among University Students



Objective:The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between experiencing household dysfunction and substance abuse in adulthood among Jamaican university students.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study which consisted of university students who were 18 years or older. Systematic sampling techniques were utilized to identify participants spanning across all faculties of a single university. The questionnaire utilized for this study included questions from several standardized scales: Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission/Organization of American States (CICAD/OAS) drug use questionnaire and the household dysfunction scale from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) questionnaire.

Results:A total of 382 students participated in the study (279 females and 103 males). More than a third of the students (38.9%) reported substance use, with 13.6% being substance abusers. Seven of every ten respondents were raised in a dysfunctional household. A significant positive relationship was observed between household dysfunction and substance abuse, where higher levels of household dysfunction were found to be associated with substance abuse: χ2 (2, n = 382) = 7.685, p < 0.05. Additionally, witnessing a mother or caregiver being violently treated, living with an alcoholic family member or a household member who attempted suicide was found to be associated with substance abuse during adulthood.

Conclusion:These findings highlight the role of household dysfunction as a serious risk factor for adult drug abuse and can be used to help guide and inform drug prevention and intervention strategies.

October 27, 2014
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