Substance abuse amongst university students is a major public health concern. There is paucity of literature on the effectiveness of the existing interventions aimed at reducing substance abuse in middle and low income countries. This study was done to determine the effectiveness of alcohol and drug abuse awareness campaigns on behaviour change among first year undergraduate students. This was a quasi-experimental study. Baseline survey involving 473 first year undergraduate students from two public universities in the coastal region of Kenya was done. The Universities were then allocated to either experimental or control group. Intervention of awareness campaigns were carried out in one of the University for a period of one year after which an end-line surveys involving 387 students was done. Data was collected using self-administered questionnaires. The study showed high prevalence of substance use with alcohol being the most commonly used substance at both baseline and end-line surveys. Despite the intervention being in one University, the prevalence of drug use increased from 38.9% to 48.9% in the control University and 31.3 % to 55.2% in the intervention University. The problem of substance abuse is enormous among university students. Information awareness campaigns against substance abuse alone are not effective in reducing uptake of substance use among university students.There is need to devise more effective strategies to control substance abuse.
Substance abuse;awareness campaigns;University students;Kenya