Influence of Peer Pressure on Initiation of Substance Abuse amongst Students of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria


  • A. Lawal Department of Community Medicine Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • P. Njeatih Department of Community Medicine Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, Zaria
  • S. Sheidu Department of Community Medicine Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • H. L. Khadeejah Department of Community Medicine Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • N. Bilkisu Department of Community Medicine, Kaduna State University, Kaduna
  • G. A. Zubaida Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • M. B. Sufiyan Department of Community Medicine Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
  • A. O. Abdulhakeem Department of Community Medicine Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria


Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including
alcohol and illicit drugs. One of the key impacts of illicit drug use on society is the negative
health consequences experienced by its members. Drug use also puts a heavy financial
burden on individuals, families and society. Almost two billion people around the globe are
involved in abuse of substances that can potentially harm their health and social wellbeing
with over 76 million having alcohol use disorders as well as addictions.
Few studies have systematically investigated the influence of peer pressure on these vices and
how it affects the health of undergraduate students. We assessed the awareness, knowledge,
attitude towards and influence of peer pressure on the initiation of substance abuse among
undergraduate students in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna state.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using a pre-tested, semi-structured, self-administered
questionnaire with two hundred and seventy-two undergraduate students of Ahmadu Bello
University Zariaselected using multi-stage sampling technique. Data collected was analyzed
using frequencies and percentages for categorical variables and means and standard deviation
for numeric variables at the univariate level of analysis. At the bivariate level of analysis, Chi
square test was used to determine the relationship between initiation of substance abuse and
peer influence. Level of significance was set at 5%.
The median age of respondents was 24.7 (20- 39) years, about half of the respondents were in
the age range of 20-24 years with a male preponderance of 73.9%. Majority of the
respondents were aware of peer pressure while only 38.2% had good knowledge. About 8 out
of 10 (79.4%) respondents had positive attitude. A considerable proportion of respondents
(43.8%) were involved in substance abuse while 63.2% had friends who were currently
abusing substances. The majority (77.5%) of the respondents who were abusing substances
were said to be initiated by their friends. Alcohol was the commonest (31.2%) substance ever
abused. There was a statistically significant relationship between having peers who abuse
substances and the abuse of substances (P ≤ 0.001, df=1, χ2 = 42.608).
There was poor knowledge of peer pressure but good attitude towards negative peer pressure
among the study participants. A high proportion of respondents were engaged in substance
abuse and peer pressure was found to influence initiation of substance abuse among
We recommend that the school management should organize orientation and reorientation
program for undergraduate students with particular emphasis on peer pressure and the means
of controlling it