Teenage substance use is a global challenge, and youths residing in Kuwait are not immune from it. Tobacco products are licit; however, alcohol and other mood-altering illicit substance are prohibited with severe penalties including imprisonment. Youths residing in Kuwait are being initiated into the use of mood-altering substances like tobacco at an early age, and it is postulated that, as they grow older, they may progress into using alcohol and other prohibited illicit drugs.
The aim of this study was to determine licit and illicit substance use by teenagers residing in Kuwait. The study will also explore their awareness of substance use among their peers.
A cross-sectional survey using a snowball sampling technique was used to recruit 190 teenagers aged 15–18 years residing in Kuwait. Data were collected using the 130-item questionnaire adapted from 1998 New Jersey Triennial Public High School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use. Data collection was from September 2012 to June 2013.
The Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 22 for Windows was used. Pearson’s chi-square, Kruskal–Wallis, and Mann–Whitney U tests were used to test the hypotheses.
Tobacco was the most commonly used substance by these teenagers; 8.4% were current smokers, and 50% had experimented. Age of initiation for 21% was before 14 years old. Hashish (marijuana) was the most commonly used illicit drug, with 3.7% current users and 5.3% claiming to have used it. More male than female teenagers in Grade 9 were using tobacco products (χ2 = 27.428, df = 5, p < .001).
The use and abuse of mood/mind-altering licit and illicit substances appear to be increasing among older teenagers. Intensifying campaigns about the hazards of substance use and drug testing should start from the primary school level.