DRUG abuse is a major public health problem. World Book Encyclopedia defined drug abuse as the non-medical use of a drug that interferes with a healthy and productive life.
The issue of drug abuse is not new in our world today. What is rather new is the increasing rate our secondary school students, adolescents, both male and female engage in it.
In the past, drug abuse was linked to the people, mostly adults, who were frustrated emotionally, socially or economically. It was a common belief that those who were jobless or disappointed by their partners sought refuge in taking hard drugs to help them calm and forget such disappointments.
It is therefore, worrisome the way teenagers are involved in drug abuse .The most worrisome is that some female secondary school students also engage in it.
They take various hard drugs like tramadol, cocaine, codeine cough syrup heroin, cannabis, India hemp and so on. They got involved in violent behaviors under the influence of hard drugs.
The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC) explained the term drug abuse as excessive and persistent self-administration of a drug without regard to the medically or culturally accepted patterns. It could also be viewed as the use of a drug to the extent that it interferes with the health and social function of an individual.
According to NAFDAC, in Nigeria, the most common types of abused drugs are
Stimulants: These are substances that directly act and stimulate the central nervous system.
Hallucinogens’: These are drugs that alter the sensory processing unit in the brain. Thus, producing distorted perception, feeling of anxiety and euphoria, sadness and inner joy, they normally come from marijuana, LSD etc.
Narcotics: These drugs relieve pains, induce sleeping and they are addictive. They are found in heroin, codeine, opium etc.
Sedatives: These drugs are among the most widely used and abused. This is largely due to the belief that they relieve stress and anxiety, and some of them induce sleep, ease tension, cause relaxation or help users to forget their problems. They are sourced from valium, alcohol, promotazine, chloroform.
Miscellaneous: This is a group of volatile solvents or inhalants that provide euphoria, emotional disinhibition and perpetual distortion of thought to the user. The main sources are glues, spot removers, tube repair, perfumes, chemicals etc.
Tranquilizers: They are believed to produce calmness without bringing drowsiness, they are chiefly derived from Librium, Valium etc.
Recent reports from NDLEA shows that youths involvement in drug abuse particularly in North-west, Nigeria, is quite alarming. A large number of young people from 15 to 35 years of both sexes use drugs either as stimulant or depressant purposes.
An officer of the agency who pleaded anonymity, said that corrosive substances like super glue, gasoline, correcting fluid or urine, toilets, dirty smelling gutters were inhaled by some of these youths to achieve a particular result.
He lamented that while the North-west is said to have the highest cases of drug abuse, the South-west tops the list of areas with largest cultivation of illicit weeds and the South-east records the most traffickers of hard drugs. He said that Nigeria has the highest record of people serving various jail terms across the globe for drug-related offences.
On why the NDLEA still finds it difficult fighting the spread of illicit drugs in Nigeria, the officer said that the agency was handicapped. “We don’t have adequate human and material resources to carry out effective operations. Our staff strength is about 4,900 which is not enough to cover the whole country. We also have issues of inadequate funding which affect our production,”He said.
A developmental psychologist, Nkiru Okoli attributed high rate of drug abuse among the youths to peer groups’ influence, poor parental upbringing, collapse of the societal value system , poverty, strikes in our public tertiary institutions which makes some of the undergraduates idle and exposed to drugs and all kinds of manipulations, unemployment of school leavers and graduates with no social support and socio-economic factors which make parents pursue their careers or businesses having little or no time for their children and wards.
She said that the resultant effects of drug abuse included increase in criminal activities like armed robbery, rape, militancy, cultism, insurgency, banditry, assassination, communal clashes and mental illness like psychosis or madness.
A medical doctor, Mathew Ogbuagu lamented high rate of drug abuse among youths. He said that apart from making the drug addicts get involved in criminal activities, hard drugs could be linked to some terminal diseases like cancer of the lung, kidney and liver and various life-threatening conditions. He advised the youths involved in drug abuse to desist from such as the act will ruin them if care is not taken.
Suggesting ways to minimise the high rate of drug abuse among youths, an activist, Peter Ezenwa said that there should be adequate public enlightenment campaign against drug abuse. “The government and non-governmental organisations should intensify anti-drug awareness campaigns especially in our secondary and tertiary institutions” He was also of the view that rehabilitation centers should be established in most towns across the country to handle cases of addictions.
A University lecturer Eucharia Okonkwo, said that governments at the three-tiers should provide adequate funding to fight against drug abuse and minimize the high rate of drug abuse among youths.
In his view, a Medical practitioner, Paul Emeh, suggested that the government should create jobs for the jobless youths, Create wealth and fight poverty in order to reduce frustration and the tendency of youths going into drug abuse. A staff of the Enugu State ministry of gender affairs who chose annomity Parents should train their children and wards well, inculcate in them acceptable norms and values of the society so that they would always select good friends and not bad influence.
she said that the government should care for drug the abusers who exhibit symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, behaviour changes, fatigue and loss or increase in appetite .They should be treated freely and counseled properly in order to save them from the deadly diseases.