• medical education;
  • medical students;
  • psychoactive substances


The objective of our study was to investigate the patterns of use of psychoactive substances among students of a medical school in Southern Brazil and to explore a putative role of discrete behavioral and social variables in their drug use. This is a descriptive and transversal cut study. All regularly enrolled medical students at the University of Caxias do Sul were invited to participate in the study. A self-administered questionnaire, which analyses lifetime drug use as well as drug use in the previous 30 days and 12 months was utilized to collect data. From a total of 318 regularly enrolled students, 183 (57.5%) completed and returned the questionnaires. The highest prevalence rates of lifetime drug use, drug use in the last 12 months and drug use in the last 30 days were observed, according to drug type, as follow in descending order: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, tranquilizers, amphetamine and cocaine. A multivariate analysis indicated that research respondents who live with their parents as well as those whose parents live together harmoniously, those who deny close ties to drug users, those who disapprove drug use, those who are not tobacco smokers and those who manifest religious beliefs and practice presented the most reduced levels of illicit drug use. The use of psychoactive substances among medical students in the University of Caxias do Sul is a significant problem. Appropriate and timely initiatives are needed to prevent and curb drug use among medical students.