Drug Abuse: The Future of Our Students, Youths

By: Ridwanullahi Odofin

Drugs are chemicals that affect the body and brain. Different drugs, when consumed, can have different effects on the individuals. Some effects of drug consumption includes, health hazards that could be long-lasting with permanent repercussions. Some effect can even continue long after a person has stopped taking the substance.

There are several ways a person can take drugs, including through injection, inhalation and ingestion. The effects of the drug on the body can depend on how the drug is administered. For example, the injection of drugs directly into the bloodstream has an immediate impact, while ingestion could have a delayed effect. However, all misused drugs affect human brain. They cause large amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our emotions, motivation and feelings of pleasure, to flood the brain and produce a “high.”

Thus, drugs use can change how the brain works and interfere with the person’s ability to make choices, leading to intense cravings and conpulsive drug use. Over time, this behavior can turn into a substance dependency, or drug addiction, that has negative impact on the person, his family and the society.

Inspite of the tough stance by the government, Nigeria’s rising profile in the hard drug business has continued to sour. From a mere transit route in the 1990s, where the country played a major role in the movement of hard drugs from South America to European and Asian countries, she has transformed into a country of ardent abusers and traffickers of hard drugs.

A recent report of the first ever survey on drug use in Nigeria has given an insight as to how deep-rooted the drug problem is. According to the survey supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the European Union, about 14.3 million Nigerians, representing about 14.4 per cent of the country’s population between the ages of 15 and 64, were said to have abused drugs in the past one year. This is very worrisome considering the dangerous consequence of his families and society at large.

Most families in Nigeria presently have youths and older persons who are notorious drug abusers because of the deleterious effects of drug or substance abuse on both the abuser. Most of these people engage in pilfering, robbery or begging to secure money to purchase drugs. They can also resort to violence when unable to satisfy their cravings for such.

In the universities and other higher institutions in the country, students who engage in drug abuse are into cultism, prostitution, examination malpractices, stealing, robbery and other types of crime and may do all this without knowing their parents. Drug abuse in the nation’s schools, even at the lower rungs of the educational institutions – primary and secondary school – is becoming worrisome.

The phenomenon might not be unconnected with the influence of external actors who come into schools to recruit and indoctrinate students and also sell hard drugs to willing students. For some students, drug sale is a fast money-making business, hence innocent students are being cajoled or lured into the dangerous habits on daily basis. The phenomenon of banditry, kidnapping and ritual killing or terrorism may also be unconnected with aftermath of drug use. Thus, it is feared that failure to arrest this development could lead to a social explosion in a short run.

According to the World Health Organisation, it is on record that alcohol alone is responsible for about 3.3 million death every year. The figure is far higher when other dangerous drugs are taken into consideration. This is perhaps why some countries including Thailand, Singapore and Saudi Arabia handed down maximum punishment for drug offences.

Cannabis (Indian hemp), is the most abused substance taken by 10.6 million Nigerians, out of the 14.3 million that took drugs last year. This makes cannabis, perhaps next to alcohol, by far the most commonly abused substance in the country.

However, also popular among the youths, probably due to their affordability, are some prescription drugs such as Tramadol, codeine, antibiotics, cough syrup and laxatives.

It does appear that Nigeria’s law does not serve sufficient deterrence against drug abuse. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency might need to go beyond their present confines to raid hideous and compounds where drug businesses thrives. In addition to strengthen its intelligence gathering network. At the moment, the figure of 14.4 percent prevalence of drug abuse in the country is more than double the 2016 global average of 5.6 percent. Thus, given the rate at which the habit is spreading. It is feared that the rate will further increase and might become an epidemic in a country that lacks the capacity to handle social ills.

A further disturbing report by the National Bureau of Statistics and the Centre for Research and Substance Abuse, showed that the drug problem was more pronounced in the South than in the North, contrary to what people tends to believe. The alarming trend in the university system and other sectors of education is worth being investigated as they are becoming a breeding ground.

Government and concerned stakeholders should take drastic measures to salvage the future of our students and the youths from being ravaged by drug abuse and work to exterminate all motivations for drug use around educational institutions. This includes clubs, brothers and alcohol sales joint.

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