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Relationship between poor self-esteem and adolescent substance use

Moses Abayomi Ojo

M.A. Ojo1, O. Akintoyese2, P. Adenibuyan1, A.A. Adegbohun3, K. Abiri3. 1Substance Abuse Treatment and Research Unit, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Nigeria; 2Drug Abuse Treatment and Research Unit, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Nigeria; 3Substance Abuse and Treatment Unit, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Nigeria

Background: The existence of an association between low self-esteem and substance use has been reported in the literature. Such coexistence has been associated with poor treatment outcome, problems with the legal system, and high rate of relapse among adolescents with substance use disorders. The aim of this study is to determine the relationship between self-esteem and substance use among adolescents.

Methodology: The study was conducted at the Lagos City Secondary School, Yaba, Lagos. Informed consent was obtained from the parents of the participating students. The World Health Organization Students’ Drug Use Survey questionnaire and the Self-Description Questionnaire (SDQII) were administered to the adolescents.

Results: Lifetime substance use was reported among 23.8% of the adolescents, while low self-esteem was reported among 19%. Factors associated with low self-esteem include low family income, marital disharmony in family, child physical abuse, bullying in school, and poor school performance. Having low self-esteem was associated with both past-year (odds ratio [OR]=1.5, 95% CI=3.12–6.21; p=0.01) and current use of substances (OR=2.2, 95% CI=1.61–4.32; p=0.01).

Conclusion: Low self-esteem may be a crucial factor in substance use among adolescents. Psychological prevention and treatment programs should focus on improvement in self-esteem, especially among adolescents.

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Sub-Saharan Africa
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