A new study has revealed that a total of 56.1 per cent of 3,301 youth aged 13 and 24 years old sampled in seven districts have tried drinking alcohol at least once in their lifetime. The study was commissioned by the Society for Family Health (SFH) and conducted with technical and financial support from Enabel (Belgian Development Agency). It is so far the pilot study on the prevalence of drugs and substance abuse among adolescents. I was conducted in Gakenke, Gisagara, Karongi, Nyamasheke, Nyarugenge, Rulindo, and Rusizi districts between September and October last year. ALSO READ: Binge drinking: The dangers for young people “For alcohol use, the study found that 56.1 per cent of the youths had tried alcohol at least once in their lifetime, 40.5 percent during the past 12 months, and 31.6 per cent during the 30 days preceding the study,” read some of the survey findings. Meanwhile, overall, 13.7 percent of males and 2.7 percent of females had at least one alcohol binge drinking episode over the past 30 days; where the boys aged 18 and above represent the majority of binge drinkers at 9.2 percent. According to the study Nyarugenge district has the highest proportion with 23 percent followed by Gisagara and Nyamashake with 11 percent each, 10 percent for Karongi as well as Rusizi with 8 percent. While the ones with the smallest number are Rulindo and Gakenke with 5 percent per district. The study indicates that some of the reasons behind the consumption of alcohol at a young age include being suspended from school, having a history of unintended pregnancy, and living in urban areas. Others include having a history of anxiety and depressive disorders and family conflict, losing parents or closer relatives among others. On the other hand, the study shows that some protective factors to curb the issue include attending school, youth centers, and sports clubs and having the involvement of parents. Narcotics among youth Meanwhile, the study also identified cannabis as the most illegal substance used by adolescents in the seven districts with 9.3 per cent having used cannabis at least once in their lifetime and 6.9 per cent in a year, as well as 5.3 percent in a month, preceding the interviews. According to the report, severe narcotic drugs are used in some places but the overall prevalence of reported ever-used heroin and cocaine remains low at 0.5 percent and 0.1 percent respectively. As recommendations to fight the use of drugs and substance abuse among young people include education strategies that should be developed and implemented to make young people aware of the consequences of drug abuse on their health. Avail psychological and treatment services for adolescents and young people and improve community and family support for effective reintegration of former drug users among others.