Second-Year Nursing Students’ Self-Reported Alcohol and Substance Use and Academic Performance
The use of alcohol and substances among students and young adults in South Africa is alarmingly high. Peer pressure, social activities and external influences have been reported as major factors driving students’ drinking behaviour. Nursing students may be vulnerable to alcohol and substance abuse, as they face various stressful situations in their personal and professional lives as developing healthcare professionals. This article describes the self-reported prevalence of alcohol and substance use among second-year nursing students in the Faculty of Health Sciences at a South African university, as well as the possible association between alcohol and substance use and academic performance. This was determined as part of a larger study. In this quantitative, cross-sectional study, data were collected by means of a questionnaire. Of the 75 second-year nursing students approached to participate, 69 completed the questionnaire (response rate 92.0%). The majority of the respondents (81.2%) reported alcohol consumption, 52.2 per cent consumed alcohol with an energy drink, and 17.4 per cent consumed alcohol in conjunction with cannabis. Less than half (40.6%) smoked cigarettes or tobacco and 21.7 per cent indicated cannabis use. One and a half per cent (1.5%) reported smoking smokeless tobacco. A small percentage (8.7%) indicated medication use for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which was obtained with a prescription and 7.3 per cent obtained the medication without a prescription. Sedatives and tranquilisers were reportedly used by 8.7 per cent with a prescription, and 5.8 per cent without. The use of glue and solvents, “spice” and LSD was reported by 5.8, 2.3 and 1.5 per cent, respectively. Substance use may lead to unprofessional behaviour. Intervention programmes could contribute to decreased academic stress, effective time management and educated professional students.