A community based study of patterns of psychoactive substance use among street children in a local government area of Nigeria

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003 Aug 20;71(2):109-16. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(03)00093-0.


Background: The nature of continuous exposure to the street and its associated lifestyles make street children vulnerable to the use of psychoactive substances. At present, there is insufficient information regarding the pattern of psychoactive substance use among this group of children in Nigeria.

Aims: To determine the pattern of psychoactive substance use among street children and to explore those socio-demographic and street factors that could be related to current psychoactive substance use.

Methods: Using a multistage sampling method in a local government area in Nigeria, 180 children aged 18 years and below who had left the custody of their parents for a period of not less than a month were interviewed.

Results: The most commonly used psychoactive substances were alcohol, kolanut, tobacco and cannabis. None of the respondents reported the use of cocaine, opiates or hallucinogens. Length of stay on the street was found to be significantly predictive of current psychoactive substance use.

Conclusion: The readily available and relatively cheap substances were in common use among street children with the length of stay on the street being a significant predictive factor. The affected community and the government should design methods of curtailing the problem of drug use and helping the children off the street.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Homeless Youth / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Psychotropic Drugs*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*


  • Psychotropic Drugs