School environment is one of the important factors affecting behavior and use of addictive substances in youth. School-related studies on youth behavior are categorized mainly in 3 areas: school structures, sociocultural conditions at schools, and social networks at schools. In this study, the prevalence of youth substance use (cigarette, alcohol, and cannabis) was compared across different types of public high schools (HSs) in Istanbul.
The survey research of 31,272 students was conducted in 154 HSs in 28 districts of Istanbul, Turkey in 2010. The school types consisted of regular, occupational, and Anatolian HSs, which differ on curriculum, resources, and admission requirements. The participating schools were selected randomly through a stratification method.
Comparison of school types across lifetime use of cigarette, alcohol, or marijuana showed that vocational HS students had significantly higher rates of cigarette (49.8%) and marijuana (4.1%), whereas Anatolian HS students had higher rates of alcohol (39.7%) use. Cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana were used lifetime 45.5%, 32.5%, and 3.3%, respectively, by all HS students in Istanbul. Vocational HS had greater than average rates of cigarette and marijuana use and Anatolian HS had greater than average rates for alcohol use.
Substance use prevalence varied across HS types, but this variance was different according to types of substances. While planning substance use prevention interventions, policy makers should understand the reasons for the differences and prioritize interventions aiming to decrease cigarette and marijuana use in regular and vocational HS and alcohol use in Anatolian HS.