Background: According to UNDCP World drug report, the problem of alcohol abuse in adolescence is fast assuming alarming proportions in both developed and developing nations. Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh has regularly been in media headlines for extensive abuse of alcohol because of easy access and lack of social inhibition for intake of alcohol that might increase the vulnerability of youth to these habits. Objective: The study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of alcoholic user among school going adolescents and provide an essential source of information about alcohol abuse and its correlates in this Himalayan region. Materials and Methods: This was a descriptive school-based cross-sectional study conducted among students (13-19 years) studying in classes 7th to 12th designed to collect the data using an anonymous, pre tested, self-administered questionnaire. Multi stage cluster random design and PPS sampling methodology was adopted. A sample of 3000 students both from rural and urban areas studying in 20 government and private senior secondary schools was selected. Statistical analysis was done by entering the data in SPSS Version 16. Results: The ultimate response rate was 98.5 %. Out of the total of 2864 participants, 518 (18.09 %; 95%CI-16.69 % to 19.55%) had indulged in alcohol abuse at least once in their lifetime. Prevalence of current and regular users was 38.22% (95%CI -42.56 % to 64.02%) and 5.02% (95% CI- 3.30% to 7.27%) respectively. Mean age of first experience was 15.91 years. Among participants prevalence of alcohol abusers was highest for those studying in a government schools in rural area and those who belongs to nuclear families. The logistic regression model revealed that alcohol abuse among friends, family members, staying away from homes, males and older age group of 16-19 years were the factors found to be positively associated with substance abuse. Conclusion: The study has brought out a high prevalence of alcohol abuse among the students. It signifies scaling up of IEC activities and life skill education focused on school going adolescents is imperative.
Key words: Alcohol abuse, prevalence, school going adolescents.