Pathways to alcohol abuse by school going adolescents: A case study of Chibombo District of Zambia

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Ngoma, Crispin
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Alcohol consumption by school pupils has become a big problem in Zambia. Children as young as 14 years are drinking alcohol with ease yet it is a known fact that children who start drinking as early as 14 or earlier than this are more likely to become alcoholics. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate views held by pupils about factors that lead to alcohol consumption among school boys and girls. The sample consisted of 160 male and female pupils from two boarding schools in Chibombo a rural district in Zambia. The pupil participants had a median age of 16 years. Other participants included of guidance and counseling teachers of the participating schools. The study utilized both qualitative and quantitative techniques of data collection. In the qualitative approach, two data collection strategies were used: in depth individual interviews with 2 guidance and counseling teachers and focus group discussions with 48 pupils. The results from the thematic content analysis were further used as a guide in designing a survey questionnaire which was administered to 112 respondents. Out of 112 only data from 92 questionnaires were analyzed. The survey data were summarized and presented in terms of frequencies and percentages through Microsoft excel. Factors like peer pressure, permissive school environment, easy access to alcohol outlets, positive perception of the effects of alcohol use and perceived social problems were simultaneously investigated and the results show that these factors were strongly perceived by respondents as causes of alcohol abuse by pupils. Other results were that pupils had knowledge of the adverse effects of alcohol abuse and the non- existence of appropriate school based prevention programmes. The results were consistent with many other researches done in Zambia and other parts of the world. Generally the findings show a common view and agreement by pupils that the use of alcohol in school is not permitted by school authorities. Since there are pupils who take alcohol as revealed by the study then it is possible that among these there are some who abuse alcohol through excessive drinking. Based on the views held by the pupils about alcohol use and abuse, there is need to find ways and means to prevent and stop them from getting involved in regular use of alcohol at this early age since the consequences of this behavior can be a possible indicator of future health and social problems.
Alcohol abuse , Alcohol Intoxication , Alcohol Addiction