Society of African Journal Editors

African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies

Temperament and the risk of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis use among university students in Botswana

Authors: Wendy Katherine Ludick, Kennedy Amone-P’Olak

Journal: African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies

Substance use is rising among young people in developing countries, especially in schools and universities. Empirical studies on factors associated with substance abuse are required to identify protective and risk factors and to inform interventions. We report on the extent to which temperament and other demographic and background characteristics predict substance use among young adults pursuing university education in Botswana. Information on demographic characteristics and substance use (alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis) and temperament was obtained by questionnaire in a crossfaculty sample of 211 university students (41% male, n=87) at a university in Botswana. The Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire (Cloninger, 1987) was used to assess temperament with only the subscales on novelty seeking and harm avoidance included. Questionnaires were administered during scheduled lecture hours. Twelve per cent (12%) of the students used tobacco, 19% used cannabis weekly, daily, or almost daily, and 45% reported using alcohol. Cannabis use is more common among male than female participants but there were no sex differences in using alcohol. Compared to those who were brought up in urban areas, students who were raised in rural settings were less likely to use substances. Similarly, students who attended public schools were less likely to use substances compared to their counterparts who attended private schools. The temperamental typology of novelty seeking significantly predicted tobacco (β=.32 (95% CI: .28, .37)), cannabis (β=.35 (95% CI: .28, .42)), and alcohol (β=.22 (95% CI: .16, .28)) use while harm avoidance significantly predicted only alcohol use (β=.18 (95% CI: .12, .24)). Background information and knowledge of temperament are essential for designing interventions to reduce substance use among young adults in tertiary education. Such interventions may include better education on substance use in secondary schools, tertiary institutions, and communities. Keywords: Alcohol and tobacco, cannabis use, temperament, university studnets, Botswana