Addictive behaviours among first year high education students – a descriptive study
Numerous studies point to the transition to higher education as a critical developmental stage, drawing special attention to the risks associated with addictive behaviours. The purpose of this study is to add knowledge to the characterization of addictive behaviours among first year higher education students.
The study population was a convenience sample of 252 first year higher education students enrolled in Riscos & Desafios (R&D), a life-skills training program, with 182 (72.2%) female between 17 and 50 years old (M=20.09; SD=5.028; med.=19). Data were collected during 19/20 school year (prior to the pandemic onset) with a self-completion questionnaire filled out by the students before the beginning of the R&D Program, and then explored using univariate analysis of frequency. The results showed a vast majority of the participants reporting lifelong use of social media (98,4%), online gaming (84,5%), in contrast with a lower prevalence of online gambling (22,6%). Also, students identify internet use related problems such as problems in academic performance (28,2%), family conflict (13,9%) and emotional discomfort (15,1%). Only 15,1% of the participants exhibit normal scores for internet addiction, whereas 45,2% filled the criteria for mild addiction, 36,1% for moderate addiction and 1,6% for severe addiction. Alcohol was the substance with the most prevalent consumption. More than half the respondents engaged in binge-drinking (56,3%), light drunkenness (60,2%) or severe drunkenness (59,3%) at least one time in the last year. Alcohol use is associated with emotional discomfort by 9,5% of the participant and 88.1% of the students present a risky level of alcohol consumption, 7.9% express harmful consumption, and 2.8% evidence dependency criteria.
These results corroborate other findings and highlight the importance of preventive intervention in addictive behaviours among first year high education students.