Background: Abuse of psycho active substances has been a problem in the society since ages. And the patterns of substances abused keep changing in every society. Street children are a marginalized group of our society who harbour a variety of social and cultural problems. There is an urgent need to understand their problems better so as to be able to cater to their needs.
Method: This is a cross sectional descriptive study where 30 street children were interviewed regarding their personal and work problems. Patterns of abuse of substances by these children was studied based on their interview.
Results: Most of the children have ended up on the street to escape from exploitation at home. Due to pressure and influence from friends they take to substance abuse. They start with tobacco; proceed to solvent abuse (80%), alcohol (80%), and cannabis (63.3%). Use of tobacco and solvents starts early at an average age of 8 years. Cannabis is taken by older children.
Conclusion: These children face a variety of problems at home and also at work. They are highly exploited by the community. Most children take to high risk behaviour to overcome these hardships. Better understanding of this socially out cast community is the need of the hour in order to curb this evil of substance abuse.
Key words: Drug abuse, street children, substance abuse, risk behaviour.