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Psychosocial Factors Influencing Substance Abuse Among Undergraduates in
Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria
Faculty of Social Sciences, Ekiti State University
Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria
Bukunmi. O. Adewumi, Bsc.
E-mail: adewumibukunmi@gmail.com
Imisioluwa. O. Fadahunsi, Bsc.
Email: inspifad1@gmail.com
Bukola Ajayi, Ph.D
Email: buddex2003@gmail.com

This study investigated the psychosocial factors influencing substance abuse among
undergraduates. The study was conducted in Ekiti State university Ado Ekiti. 150 participants
who are undergraduates of the university were used in this research. They consist of 82 males
and 68 females selected from all faculties in the institution. 3 questionnaires were administered
to respondent to measure the factors influencing substance abuse and the level at which they are
abused. Independent T-test, multiple regression and Pearson Correlation method were used to
analyze the data collected. Five hypotheses were tested: hypothesis 1, 2, 3 and 4 were significant
while hypothesis 5 was insignificant.
It was observed that there was significant influence of religiosity on substance abuse among
undergraduates, the result also revealed that there was a significant influence of self-esteem on
substance abuse among undergraduates, it also revealed that religiosity and self-esteem jointly
predicted substance abuse among undergraduates, likewise the result also show that there was
significant influence of sex on substance abuse among undergraduates and finally the result
revealed there was no significant relationship between religiosity and self-esteem among
The results were discussed in line with relevant empirical literatures, while conclusion
and recommendations subsequently followed.


Substance abuse is an act of consuming Substance/drug in a wrong manner, such that it
distorts the physical and psychological functioning of the abuser .Drug could also be abused
when it is not pharmacologically necessary and when it is used in the face of legal prohibition.
According to Abdullahi (2005),substance/drug abuse has been subjected to different
definitions and interpretations by different people from different perspectives. This accounts for
multiplicity of meanings given to it in the literature. For the purpose of this research, the
researcher sees substance abuse as the use of any substance for the purposes other than that for
which it is normally prescribed or recommended by a medical practitioner or agency. It has been
observed that majority of substance abuse start during the adolescence stage, especially so far the
‗gateway‘ drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, this brought the need to check this bad practice in the
universities campuses. Alcohol and cigarettes are described as ‗gateway‘ because they are
usually, the first substances that are used before other drugs are tried out (Indian Preventive
Resource Centre, 2003). According to Okaza and Aluede (2009) substance abuse by students can
lead to sharp decline in student‘s academic performance, increase reports of truancy and
expulsion from school. It can also lead to addiction (increased desire for drugs without which
normal life processes is disturbed), and increased appetite and libido. Social vices such as
stealing, fighting and raping may also be caused by substance abuse as a result of alteration in
the brain chemistry of the abusers. Continued abuse of substance over a prolonged period of time
often leads to drug tolerance and physiological reaction in which the body requires larger doses
in order to experience the same effects (Baron and Kalsher, 2008). Patterns of substance abuse
may vary greatly around the world and overtime. In the United States, the use of many
conscious-altering substance increased in the 1990s (Baron and Kalsher). According to Ekey
(1997) and Fatoye and Morakinyo (1997), the abuse of substance became very rampant in
Nigeria in the 1990s. This shows that from 1990s to date, there is increased in drug
The current trend of substance abuse among youth is a major national concern, it is
troubling, it has derogatory effects on youth such as health and behavioral problems, or even
death. Falco (1988); as cited by Sambo(2008) viewed that ―chronic use of substance can cause
serious, sometimes irreversible damage to adolescents‘ physical and psychological development.
Therefore, the issue of substance abuse has become aworrisome phenomenon, because youth are
dying morally, socially, psychologically and physically. Currently, drugs ranging from alcohol,
cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, heroin to hashish and many others are readily available to youth
in Nigeria and this has made many youths to be perpetrators of social vices in the society.
Mersy (2003) described substance abuse as problematic use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit
and /or prescription drugs and it has been referred to as nation‘s number one health problem.
While, David, Derald& Stanley (1990) refers to substance abuse as a pathological pattern or
excessive use, in take of a substance even though it may be causing physical damage,
jeopardizing safety (such as driving a car while intoxicated) or impairing social relationships and

occupational functioning. Need for substance may lead to a pre-occupation with its acquisition
and use.
Substance abuse may reduce undergraduate chances of graduating from school or of landing and
holding a steady job, it may also be causing student unrest in the campus which will disturb
academic calendar and this may also lead to poor academic performance. According to Hawkins,
Cataland and Miller (1992) a low level of commitment to education and higher truancy rates
appear to be related to substance use among adolescent. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1992)
posited that cognitive and behavioral problems experienced by alcohol and drug-using youth
may interfere with their academic performance and also present obstacles to learning for their
Substance abuse is common among undergraduate students; many of them abuse
substance such as drug alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug
among youth, and it causes serious and potentially life threatening problems for this
population. Eke Jumba (1991) notes that alcohol is the most abused substance in Nigerian
campuses. Denga in Piwana and Haggai (2007) points out that alcohol has become a recreational
past time with students, to the extent that students have found a new religion in which drinking
alcohol is the major sacrament. This refers to the Kegites‖ Fraternity. The findings of Piwana
and Haggai (2007) also revealed that the drugs commonly used at cult meetings include first and
foremost alcohol and tobacco; all cult groups abuse these two drugs regularly.
Self-esteem, is the positive or negative evaluations of the self, as in how we feel about it. Selfesteem reflects a person's overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a
judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.
Self-esteem encompasses beliefs
(for example, "I am competent", "I am worthy") and emotions suchastriumph,despair,pride, and
self-esteem talks about the beliefs you have about yourself – what you think about the type of
person you are, your abilities, the positive and negative things about you and what you expect for
your future. If you have healthy self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will generally be
positive. You may experience difficult times in your life, but you will generally be able to deal
with these without them having too much of a long-term negative impact on you. If you have low
self-esteem, your beliefs about yourself will often be negative. You will tend to focus on your
weaknesses or mistakes that you have made, and may find it hard to recognise the positive parts
of your personality. You may also blame yourself for any difficulties or failures that you have.
Self-Esteem and Substance Use
In Glindemann, Geller and Fortney (1999), researchers proposed that low self-esteem
might be a motivator for a high consumption of alcohol among emerging adults. As mentioned
before, self-esteem has been commonly defined as the extent to which one has favorable or
unfavorable self-evaluations. One study by Parish and Parish (1991), concluded that people with

low self-esteem are much more likely to consume alcohol as a way to try to gain some degree of
peer support and acceptance. Also low self-esteem influences the use of alcohol because alcohol
provides rationalization for bad performance or improves positive feelings of self-worth. In
Chen, Dufour& Yi (2004-05) it was found that drinking more than the recommended per
occasion maximum (in college students) was likely to impair mental performance and might help
explain increased negative consequences such as poor self-worth. It has been reported that
individuals may be using alcohol to cope with tension or anxiety because they believe that
alcohol can produce an effect of relaxation and a decrease in anxiety, and this belief is especially
held a for people with low self-esteem (Pullen, 1994). Also substance use seems to escalate when
young adults have low self-esteem and can‘t cope with stress in amore positive manner.
Religiosity deals more with how religious a person is, and less with how a person is
religious (in practicing certainrituals, retelling certain stories, revering certain symbols, or
accepting certain doctrines about deities and afterlife). The terms religiousness/religiosity are
used interchangeably but often defined as an individual‘s conviction, devotion, and veneration
towards a divinity. However, in its most comprehensive use, religiosity can encapsulate all
dimensions of religion, yet the concept can also be used in a narrow sense to denote an extreme
view and over dedication to religious rituals and traditions. This rigid form of religiosity in
essence is often viewed as a negative side of the religious experience, it can be typified by an
over involvement in religious practices which are deemed to be beyond the social norms of one‘s
Religiosity and Substance Abuse
Pioneering the research into the religiosity/delinquency relationship were Hirschi and Stark
(1969), who predicted that through social control, church attendance would decrease
juvenile delinquency. Interestingly, they failed to find a link between religiosity and
delinquency. However, it is possible that the measures of religiosity used (juvenile church
attendance and belief in the afterlife) did not validly or adequately measure religiosity, especially
since juvenile religiosity can be confounded by other influences (Evans et al., 1995). The latter
measure may have also been better termed a spiritual measure. Hirschi and Stark‘s finding that
religiosity was not associated with less frequent delinquency provided the impetus for research in
to the effects of religion on criminal and deviant behaviors (Evans et al., 1995), which as
previously discussed has been to some extent lacking in theoretical construction, even in recent
literature. Other more recent studies have examined religiosity and substance abuse. Miller
(1998) found a significant relationship between individuals with alcohol and drug problems and
a current lack of religious affiliation or participation. Pullen et al. (1999) found a similar
relationship between church attendance and drug and alcohol use in juveniles. Likewise, in a
study of inner-city emergency room patients, Bazargan et al. (2004) found that among several
religious measures, religious participation was related to not having used alcohol within six
hours of admission and also with abstinence from alcohol use, while no association was found

with other religious/spiritual measures. Michalak, Trocki, and Bond (2007) explored the
relationship between religion and drinking behaviors via a secondary analysis of the 2000
National Alcohol Survey and found that drinking behaviors, especially total abstinence, were
significantly correlated to measures of religiosity. Miller (1998) found that ―religiously involved
individuals are consistently less likely to use alcohol and other drugs, and when they do so are
less likely to engage in heavy use and suffer its adverse consequences‖ (pp. 981-982). This
statement was a good summation of many research findings that provided evidence that
religiosity is associated with a lessened likelihood of engaging in substance abusing behaviors.
Statement of the Problem
Illicit drug use is injurious to both individuals and the society, spawning crimes,
spreading diseases like AIDS, killing our youths and future leaders. Today, there are estimated
90 million drug users around the world and no country alone can stem the drug trade within its
borders. No country is immune and no person really is (Awake, July 8, 2001).
Some people are involved in the use of illicit drugs because they want to reduce regular
pressures around them, to cover up for their low self esteem.


It symbolizes a protest against set rules, and to explore basic to self (Omage, 2005).The arrest by
police, NDLEA and the news reports revealed that illicit drug use is on the increase. The major
concern of this study therefore is to identify the effect of self esteem on substance abuse among
Despite the effect of many concerned bodies to curb this menace, many firms and
individuals still present these drugs as though they are harmless. They give them slogan such as
―for greatness‖, ―for taste‖ etc which often lure irrational youths into drugs and alcoholism and
long term effects of the abuse of drug on themselves, their families and the society at large.
Religiosity has also been associated with positive drug-related outcomes. It can protect
adolescents against substance use in a number of ways. It may inhibit adolescent risk behavior by
altering behavior-influencing values or by functioning as an external control factor (Amoateng&
Bahr, 1986). Some religions explicitly prohibit substance use. Another concern of this study is
the effect of religiosity on substance abuse. Some people also believe that male adolescent tends
to abuse drugs than female, therefore; making this study to be interested in knowing the effect of
sex on substance abuse.
Purpose of study
This study involve the analysis of psychosocial variable that influence substance abuse
among undergraduates. It will also find out the effect of sex on substance abuse among
Specifically the aims of the study are:
1) To find out whether religiosity will have significant influence on substance abuse.
2)To verify whether or not self esteem as a psychosocial factor will have effect on substance
3) To determine whether sex will have significant influence on substance abuse or not.
4) To verify whether or not self-esteem and religiosity will jointly predict substance abuse.
5) To investigate if there will be a significant relationship between religiosity and self-esteem
among undergraduates.
Relevance of study
It is not just enough to acknowledge the fact that a problem exist but also device means
and methods of knowing the root cause and eradication of such problems.
This project is relevant to knowing the health status and the pattern of drug use among
undergraduates. The findings obtained from this study will advance our knowledge about the
mental and behavioural functioning of undergraduates who use drugs.
The findings of these studies would help to understand and create awareness about what
young adults are experiencing and as well involving themselves in, at college and to provide
specific suggestion for parents and family as well help undergraduates to be successful.


Scope of study
Specifically, this work is designed to capture and analyze the influence of self-esteem,
religiosity and sex on substance abuse and this is purposively limited to the undergraduates of
Ekiti state university, Ado-Ekiti state. Data on self-esteem, religiosity, and substance abuse will
be collected by administering standardized questionnaires to the respondents.
This study will not digress from it proposed domain in order to reduce entanglement and excess
use of words. This research will avoid any form of bias. The result obtained will be used to
generalize the assessment of psychosocial factors influencing substance abuse among
undergraduates in Ekiti state university.

Social Learning Theory
Bandura‘s social learning theory holds that people learn from one another through
observation, imitation and modelling. According to Bandura (1977), people observe others
behaviours, and outcomes of those behaviours. This theory holds that behaviour is moulded by
rewards and punishments or reinforcement.
Social learning theory has a clear-cut application to drug use. It proposes that the use of
drugs or psychoactive substances can be explained by different exposure to groups in which drug
use is rewarded. The definitions are learned through imitation and social reinforcement by
members of the group with whom ‗me‘ is associated (Akers, 1992). Drug use, is determined ―by
the extent to which a given pattern of behaviour is sustained by the combination of the
reinforcing effects of the substance with social reinforcement, definitions through bad effects of
the substance and or the negative sanctions from peers, parents, and the law‖ (Akers et al, 1979).
Social learning theory, then, proposes that the extent to which drugs will be used depends
on the extent to which the behaviour has been differentially reinforced. Moreso, parental
characteristics and behaviours of family members like parental substance or drug use, criminal
conduct, and incarceration are associated with drug use among undergraduates. Parental use of
drugs and cigarettes has been shown to transmit across generations (Wu &Kandel, 1995).

Biological Theory
Biological theory holds that certain behaviours are primarily due to a person‘s
biochemistry, metabolism and genetic predisposition. Biological theory postulates that specific

physical mechanisms in individuals that impel or influence them to experiment with drugs or to
abuse them once they are exposed to them. Some are constitutional, that is, are based on
mechanisms that are present at birth and vary from one person to another. Others are partly
environmental; that is, inborn factors in conjunction with environmental factors generate drug
using behavioral pattern.
Biological theory explains that the genetic make-up of individuals predisposes them toward drug
use. A gene or combination of genes influences the biological mechanisms relevant to substance
use such as being able to achieve a certain level of intoxication when using dru8gs, becoming ill
at low doses, or having the capacity to metabolize chemical substances in the body. This level of
genetic loading in combination with environmental and personality factors could make for a
significantly higher level of drug use in certain individuals or groups in the population.

Social Comparison Theory
Social comparison theory is a theory that can be used to explain self-esteem. It was first
proposed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger. He believed we engaged in this comparison
process as a way of establishing a benchmark by which we can make accurate evaluations of
ourselves and learn how to define self, this definition of self can either increases self-esteem or
lower it. For example, a music student might compare herself to the intelligent student in her
class, if she finds that her own abilities do not measure up to her peer‘s talents, she might be
driven to achieve more and improve her own abilities, self-beliefs and self-confidence. The
social comparison process involves people coming to know their effectiveness, capacity and selfconfidence by evaluating their own attitudes, abilities, and beliefs through comparison with
Self-Evaluation: According to Thorton and Arrowood (1966). Self-evaluation is one of the
functions of social comparison. This process underlines how an individual compares him or
herself with others to determine and certify his ability, capacity, self-beliefs, it is when this
person have compared himself or herself with others, that he can properly define self.
(Thorton&Arrowood 1966) Each individual‘s specific goals will influence how they engage in
social comparison target that is similar to them (Wood, J.V. 1989). Specifically, they are most
interested in choosing a target who shares some distinctive characteristics with themselves.
Self-Enhancement: Individuals may also seek self-enhancement, or to improve their selfesteem. They may interpret, distort, or ignore the information gained by social comparison to see
them more positively and further their self-enhancement goals. They will also choose to make
upward (comparing themselves to someone better off) or downward (comparing themselves to
someone worse off) comparison, depending on which strategy will further their selfenhancement goals. They may also avoid making certain types of comparisons. Specifically,
when an individual believes that their ability in a specific area is low, they will avoid making

upward social comparisons in that area. Unlike for self-evaluation goals, people engaging in
social comparison with the goal of self-enhancement may not seek out target that are similar to
themselves. In fact, if a target outperforms the individual on some dimensions, the individual
may downplay the similarity of the target to themselves.
Upward and Downward Social Comparisons
Wills introduced the concept of downward comparison in 1981. Downward social
comparison is a defensive tendency that is used as a means of increasing one‘s self-esteem
through comparison with others. When a person looks to another individual or group that they
consider being worse off than themselves in order to feel better about their self or personal
situation, they are making a downward social comparison.
Upward social comparison are made to self-evaluate and self improve in the hopes that self
enhancement will also occur. This is when an individual compares himself or herself with others
greater than them to feel better about their self and realize their selves. In an upward social
comparison, people want to believe themselves to be part of the elite or superior, and make
comparison, highlighting the similarities between themselves and the comparison group, unlike a
downward social comparison, where similarities between individuals or groups are dissociated.

Self-Derogation Theory
Self derogation is a variety of the inadequate personality approach. This theory holds
that drug use and abuse, are responses to low self esteem and self rejecting attitudes (Kaplan,
1975) (although it does not apply in societies in which the particular type of drug use being
explained is practically universal and normatively accepted by the majority).
Low self-esteem could come about as a result of peer rejection, parental neglect, high
expectations for achievement, school failure, physical stigmata, impaired sex-role identity, ego
deficiencies, low coping abilities, and coping mechanisms that are socially disvalued and or are
otherwise self-defeating.
This theory explains that there is something wrong in the emotional or psychic life of
certain individuals that makes drugs attractive to therm. They use drugs as an escape from
reality, as a means of avoiding life‘s problems. Not all undergraduates that use drug share
personality inadequacies and impaired mental functioning to the same degree; some will be
impelled to experiment or use simply because of social pressure or availability. However, the
more inadequate the personality, the greater the likelihood of becoming highly involved with
drug use and the more the use becomes abuse. The usage of drugs by undergraduates is an
adaptation of a defense mechanism, to cater for feelings of inferiority that arose from the
deficiencies in their personality make-up.

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