Valid information on prevalence of alcohol is important input for public health policy. The results of this investigation indicate that alcohol consumption has a prevalence of 78.4% among the respondents. Survey and anecdotal data from countries around the globe suggest that a culture of sporadic heavy or "binge" drinking among young people may be spreading from the developed to the developing countries .
A number of school and college surveys in Nigeria have found alcohol use to be common among students, with many drinking students having had their first drink in family settings . In June 1988 a questionnaire survey of 636 undergraduate students at the University of Ilorin in Kwara State found that 77% reported lifetime alcohol use (81 per cent of men and 68 per cent of women) . In response to a 1988 survey of 1,041 senior secondary school students in Ilorin, 12% reported current use of alcohol .
Findings from this study show that majority of the respondents were initiated into the use of alcohol at a tender age of 16 to 20 years. Previous studies have shown that age of initiation of alcohol use is important. Research in the US has found that the earlier the age at which people begin drinking, the more likely they are to become alcohol dependent later in life . Those who begin drinking in their teenage years are also more likely to experience alcohol-related unintentional injuries (such as motor vehicle injuries, falls, burns, drowning) than those who begin drinking at a later age . Adverse effects of early onset of drinking may be shorter term as well: prospective research has found a younger age of initiation to be strongly related to a higher level of alcohol misuse at ages 17 and 18 .
Moreover, certain individuals (26.7%) vividly reported that they were introduced to alcohol by their family members. This is consistent with a collaborative report from WHO's European Regional Office which estimated that 4.5 million young people lived in families adversely affected by alcohol . Problems for the young people in such homes may include instability or collapse of marriages and family structures, increased risk of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, and strain on family finances. Such family problems may in turn put young people at greater risk of developing anti-social behaviours, emotional problems and problems in the school environment .
Documentation of quantity of alcohol consumed revealed that 26.7% were heavy drinkers and at risk of most of the health complication associated with alcohol consumption. Harmful use of alcohol encompasses several aspects of drinking; one is the volume drunk over time. The strongest drinking-related predictor of many chronic illnesses is the cumulated amount of alcohol consumed over a period of a year. Also, the risks of intentional and unintentional injuries and of transmission of certain infectious diseases are predicted by the pattern of drinking, occasional or regular drinking, drinking to intoxication and the drink context.
The range of adverse physical consequences stemming from heavy use of alcohol on a single occasion is well documented. The most obvious of these is alcohol poisoning, which although relatively rare is often emblematic of young drinkers' inexperience with alcohol. Alcohol may have a more immediate and severe effect on young people because their muscle mass is smaller than that of adults (WHO, 2009).
While evidence is inconclusive regarding the direct impact of alcohol use on the physical development of young people, there are indications that heavy alcohol use at a young age is predictive of a range of psychological and physical problems. Protracted and continuous abuse of alcohol may be predictive of more severe health problems in general for boys and girls . Alcohol may cause physical harm to children, although the evidence remains preliminary. Studies in laboratory animals have found that high doses of alcohol may delay the onset of puberty, retard bone growth and result in weaker bones [13–15].
Surveys of young people in European countries have looked at a wide range of behavioural consequences of alcohol use. These include individual problems, defined by self-reports on young people's reduced performance at school or at work, damage to objects or clothing, loss of money or other valuable items, and accident or injury as a result of alcohol use. Relationship problems cover self-reported quarrels or arguments, and problems in relationships with friends, teachers or parents as a result of drinking alcohol. Young people also reported on whether they had engaged in unwanted sexual experiences or unprotected sex. Finally, delinquency problems included self-reports of alcohol-related scuffles or fights, victimisation by robbery, or trouble with the police, as well as driving a motorcycle or a car under the influence of alcohol.
When related to their health status, 68.5% accepted that it forms high risk factor for most health problems like ling cancer, liver, sexually transmitted disease, HIV/AIDS, low birth weight in women, stroke and sudden death.
Even though majority (83.4%) accepted the establishment of awareness programmes in their institution on alcohol abuse with seminars, workshops, crusades and conferences held at their school premises, these actions were still not enough to combat the use of alcohol and in the institutions. More effort should be put to strengthen these existing programmes and new line of action developed that can help combat this epidemic.
Among the shortcomings of this study is the fact that there were no previous validated measure for alcohol consumption and alcohol related problems, thus making comparison difficult.