• Haq Nawaz Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad
  • Aftab Alam Khan Ayub Medical Institute, Abbottabad.
  • Saima Bukhari Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad


Background: Psychoactive substance abuse is prevalent among medical undergraduates of Pakistan, India & Western countries which can adversely affect the physical & psychological grooming of a medical undergraduate thus threatening to compromise their role as future physicians & health-care providers in the society. The objective of the present cross-sectional study was to explore the prevalence and patterns of psychoactive substance/drug consumption among undergraduate students of a public sector medical college in Abbottabad. Methods: Seven hundred and eighty participants after informed consent were requested to fill a questionnaire seeking information about their demographics, patterns & behaviours regarding ten common psychoactive substances of abuse including (Cigarettes, Benzodiazepines, naswar, cannabis, alcohol, amphetamine, opium, cocaine, heroin & organic solvents). Results: Overall students who responded were 698 (89.48%). One hundred and fifty (21.49%) admitted to the use of a psychoactive substance in past or at present. Majority users (71.33%) were males. Overall (81.33%) users were living in hostel or a rented apartment. Substance abuse was more prevalent among senior students, i.e., 30.06% & 24.24% in 4th year & final year MBBS respectively. Majority of the consumers, i.e., 93 (62%) were falling in an age group between 15–20 years. Main reasons behind substance abuse were: psychological stress (49.33%) and pleasure seeking (42.67%). Substances/drugs used by students in order of preference were Cigarettes 115 (76.67%), Benzodiazepines 48 (32%), naswar 42 (28%), Cannabis 41 (27.33%), Alcohol 24 (16%), Amphetamine 22 (14.67%), Opium 15 (10%), Cocaine 14 (9.33%), Heroin 11 (7.33%) & Organic solvents 05 (3.33%). Use of more than one substance was observed in 70 (46.67%) students. Conclusion: It is concluded that prevalence of cigarette smoking, naswar, benzodiazepines, cannabis & alcohol is high among medical undergraduates in Abbottabad which is a matter of concern. Efforts are needed to create better awareness among them about the hazards of substance abuse on their health, upcoming professional career and ailing humanity under their care.Keywords: Pakistan, Psychoactive substance abuse; Psychoactive drug abuse; Medical students; Medical undergraduates

Author Biographies

Haq Nawaz, Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad

Associate Professor,Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics,Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad (KPK).

Aftab Alam Khan, Ayub Medical Institute, Abbottabad.

Associate Professor,Incharge & Head of the department,Department of Psychiatry, Ayub Medical Institute, Abbottabad (KPK).

Saima Bukhari, Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad

Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics,Ayub Medical College, Abbottabad.


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