Substance Use among Street Children in the City of Yaounde, Cameroon
Background: Substance use is known to be more common among street children, sometimes responsible for the runaway and repeated run-away behavior. To be able to reinsert these children, the reasons why there joined the streets, why they use substance and their pattern of substance use need to be understood.
Methods: We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional mix method study in February 2021 in the streets of Yaounde. We did a semi-structured interview of 159 street children using a sociodemographic questionnaire made of open questions and, the Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST), version 3.0. The data were analyzed using R 4.1.0 for Windows.
Results: All street children were male. The most common reason for joining the streets was, questing for money, reported by one-quarter of the children. 60% of them used a substance, of which half used a substance because of peer pressure. The most commonly used substance was cannabis (36.48%), followed by tobacco (35.85%). 14.47% were dependent on tobacco and 11.32% on cannabis.
Conclusion: Substance use and substance use disorders are highly common among street children of Yaounde. This needs to be addressed to facilitate their reinsertion as shown in other studies. The mechanisms that lead to the absences of girls in the streets should also be explored to see if they can be applied to boys.