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Published On: Mon, Aug 12th, 2019

Drug abuse among youths in Nigeria

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By Kareem Itunu Azeez

When David Jones wrote the music “Stay Alive” and after I listened to it, I began to imagine what he was thinking, and how he arrived to a point where majority of his hit songs would be against the abuse of drug usage, its grip and seduction. David must have taught of the peer pressure syndrome, taking the first step into the wicked world of drug abuse, and how far those who ventured ended in tears and almost shattered hope. David, perhaps, was thinking in the same direction as I am, but we are not here to discuss music. However, he was talking to you and I, the great Nigeria youth.
Drug abuse has various definition as perceived by scholars, doctors, psychologists, even parents, but one definition that will stick to my memory for many years to come is that of the farlex partner medical dictionary (2012), which defines it as a “habitual use of drugs not needed for therapeutic purposes, solely to alter one’s mood, affect, or state of consciousness, or to affect a body function unnecessarily (as in laxative abuse)”. They were talking to us, the Nigerian youth.
Today, ingenuity has been introduced into drug abuse with complex mixtures, experimentations and new discoveries. This has resorted to the abuse of lizard dung (especially the whitish part), pit toilet/soak away fumes (bio generic gas), “goskolo”(a concoction of unimaginable substances), robin blue powder cocktail, “gadagi” (a substance resembling tea leaves), pharmaceutical products, (tramadol, rohypnol) and many more. Codeine containing cough syrup mixed with soft drinks is gradually taking over alcohol in youth parties. That’s also an excerpt recored in written piece, by vanguard of June 23rd 2016, exactly two years ago, from the words of Dr. Martin Agwogie a Drug Demand Reduction expert with NDLEA. Do you know who he was talking to? – The Nigerian youth.
Few months back, a recorded video trended across the spheres of Nigeria media. It was about the discovery by the BBC Africa of how drug abuse has increased to a level whereby pharmaceutical companies now sell illegally in the name of cough syrups, pain relievers whereby an excessive intake might lead to situations where able men and women are bound in chains for rehabilitation purposes. Do you also know why this video was let out at the stake of the company’s name which I will not mention? They were talking to the youths. Yes, the once great Nigeria youths.
It’s a challenge for men and women like you and I, going through this life to be around while the abuse of drug is on a rampage with reckless abandon. Should we fold our hands and accept the tag of a ‘wasted generation’? If No is your answer as mine is, then it’s high time we know the causes of this abuse of drugs, it’s effect on us, and how it can be stopped – a permanent solution. I am talking to you, the Nigerian youth
Frustrations, depression, poverty, and lack of proper security for drug usage might be the known reasons for its addiction. Ayo Adegoke, a lecturer of English and French semantics, and a one time drug addict, said in an interview with THISDAY, “Drugs can reduce a professor or president of a country to the level of a mechanic, who is also on drugs. It does not discriminate; it will reduce you to its level until you become a scum to the society.” He pointed out blankly, ‘it does not discriminate’ Although now aged 65, this man was once a youth.
The Effесtѕ оf drug abuse
The effect of the negative substance is limitless. Here are a few;
Alcohol for example, іѕ a ѕubѕtаnсе thаt has been consumed by mаn since mаnу centuries ago іn order tо gеt ѕресіаl bodily ѕеnѕаtіоn аnd іѕ deeply еmbеddеd in diverse сulturеѕ of thе wоrld. It іѕ used in almost аll раrtѕ оf thе wоrld yet many реорlе аrе nоt even aware thаt іt іѕ a drug. Many Nigerians do not regard аlсоhоl аѕ a vеrу роtеnt drug duе to thе fact that іt іѕ rеаdіlу available аnd іtѕ use іѕ socially accepted by thе ѕосіеtу. In ѕоmе societies оthеr than Nіgеrіа today, drinking bеhаvіоur is соnѕіdеrеd іmроrtаnt fоr the whole ѕосіаl оrdеr аnd ѕо drinking is defined and limited in accordance wіth fundamental motifs оf the сulturе. In Nіgеrіа, аlсоhоl hаѕ contributed іmmеnѕеlу tо various road ассіdеntѕ аnd сrіmеѕ. Mаnу уеаrѕ аgо, alcohol used to bе thе рrеѕеrvе оf аdult mаlеѕ, but rесеnt studies ѕhоw thаt аlсоhоl іѕ nоw аbuѕеd by thе уоuths, including the fеmаlеѕ. Alсоhоl іѕ іn thе соmроѕіtіоn of many bеvеrаgеѕ and varies grеаtlу іn thеіr nаturе аnd ѕtrеngth. Sоmе hаvе frоm .3-20% while ѕоmе others соntаіn up tо 50% аlсоhоl. Whеn this аlсоhоl іѕ tаkеn in еxсеѕѕ, the following effects соuld bе еxреrіеnсеd in the body; (tragicly enough these statistics have been brought forward, because the youth dominate the family of drinkers in today’s Nigerian society.)
* It deadens the nеrvоuѕ system. *It іnсrеаѕеs thе heart-beat.
*It causes thе blооd vеѕѕеlѕ tо dilate. *It саuѕеѕ bad dіgеѕtіоn nоtаblу оf vіtаmіn B еѕресіаllу whеn taken on empty stomach.
*It interferes wіth thе роwеr оf judgmеnt аnd роіѕоnѕ thе higher brаіn аnd nеrvе сеntrе еtс.
Finding Solution To This Plague.
If you think education and enlightenment are the only way to curb abuse of drug among the Nigerian youths, I advise you to think again. If you think counseling is enough to change that man in your streets with senses of the air, then you haven’t met Nneameka Ikechukwu, a graduate of industrial chemistry. It saddened my heart as I read his words on a daily Nigeria newspaper, covered live, on May 2018. In his words as a Tramadol user, he said, ” As for me, I hardly get hungry when I take Tramadol and I think that is what caused my weight loss. I used to take 100 milligram (mg) but now I do not feel it again. If I want to feel the effect, I will consider from 200mg and above,” Nnaemeka Ikechukwu said.
Considering his level of Tramadol consumption, one would worry for his health but defiant Ikechukwu said whether he takes drugs or not, he would still die. “Why should I not be high because something must kill a man? Oga reporter you are boring me here. In fact, I even need to smoke now. If you do not smoke, drink and do not do all these things you still die, so there is no need,” he queried.
The 25 years old graduate of Industrial Chemistry from a university in the Eastern part of Nigeria is one of the educated folks caught in the web of drug abuse. One would think that formal education is enough to deter him from being an addict; rather his quest for success was the propelling force. Remember he is a youth, prospective leader of tomorrow. He said a friend introduced him to Tramadol that is cheap and readily available but he does not take codeine, which he thinks has different effects on people.
What then do we do to save our already peril nation from the claws of hard drugs and it’s abuse? Let me make this clear to the average Nigerian youth who sees excessive drug usage as the way out from our current economic predicament. Rehabilitation centers should be equipped AGRESSIVELY, then other known factors can come in such as education, counselling, and medical checkups for the victim of this sweet, sweet, addiction.
More over, as a nation, judging by the high increase of this menace, the government of the day would also solve this issue of drug abuse by decreasing the high rate of unemployment among the youth, because an hungry man is an angry man. When there’s job there’s joy.
In a nutshell, drug abuse is a self-destructive indulgence that leads to significant problems and distress. It has suddenly assumed an alarming proportion among youths in Nigeria and could get worse if care is not taken. We must do something now to stem the tide before it brings calamity on our society. God bless the Nigeria youth.

Kareem Itunu Azeez is a Public Affairs Analyst.

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