Factors influencing use of illicit drugs among high school learners in informal township of South Africa

Main Article Content

sam Mndzebele
Stephen Ololade


In recent times, the threats associated with the use of illicit in our societies have become topical issues. The use of illegal drugs is currently a major problem among different population groups in South Africa especially the youth in schools. Identifying factors that influence the use of illicit drugs among high school learners in a socioeconomically deprived Township such as Diepsloot (Gauteng) remains a significant milestone in providing evidenced-based information useful for strategic planning to reduce the prevalence of drug use. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine factors that influence the use of drugs among high school learners among grade 8 and 11 learners in Diepsloot with a sample size of 262.The prevalence of illicit drug use among the participants was found to be about 20.6% [N=54/262]. The most commonly reported illicit drugs used, with an initiation age of ≤13years were Marijuana 81.3% [N= 213/262], and nyaope 52.3% [N=137/262]. In terms of gender, girls were found to be 83% less likely to use drugs compared to boys [OR=0.172,(95%CI=(0.073-0.402) p-value=0]. Learners who lived with both parents were found to be 86% less likely to use drugs as compared to those who lived with  single parents [OR=0.139,(95%CI=(0.042-0.462) p-value=0. Ethnicity and religion have no statistical significance with drug use. The transitional changes in the socioeconomic and cultural system associated with an informal Township such as Diepsloot have promoted the use of illegal drugs among adolescent in an increasing measure. Most common factors influencing illicit drug use among high school learners are: gender, age, degree of educational qualification in the home environment, socioeconomic background, and family structure. Early Initiation of community programs may assist in reducing the impact of this scourge in our societies.

Key words: Illicit drugs, High school learners, Diepsloot, Informal Township

Article Details

Author Biographies

sam Mndzebele, SMU

Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health (Dept of Health Systems Management & Policy). Research areas: Healthcare systems, Health management, Health policy, Oral healthcare, Teaching & learning.

Stephen Ololade

BDS, Dip. Odont(Comm Dent), PGD Dent(Implantology), MPH