The typical Nigerian youth’s vulnerability exposes him to various activities which either benefit him or otherwise. One of such negative activities, is the indiscriminate use of drugs which has dangerous effects on him and the society.
From alcohol to other psychoactive or performance enhancing drugs, the effect of the dependence on these drugs tend to alter responses to sensations alertness and stability of moods which are all controlled from the Central Nervous System (C.N.S). Although  drug on its own could be regarded as any substance taken by a living organism in order to enhance work activities its abuse, may lead to a very dangerous and irreversible health damage.
The use of harmful drugs and their addition can be separated though every long term user is a potential addict.
Amongst the Nigerian adolescent and young adults, what then makes the habitual use of drugs so common? Is it voluntarily or as a result of peer influence from the immediate environment of an average young one.
The family, for instance, as the saying goes, “Charity begins at home” but does not end at home. It implies that, a great percentage of any child’s behaviour is  expected to be influenced from within his immediate family.
Institutions whereby adequate monitoring is not being carried out on children and wards by their family or guardians, much seems to go wrong and such young persons tend to act on the basis of their discretion even when such discretion is bound to spell doom on them.
The perception of an average drug addict is that effects that stimulate or rather make them “high” and so they are taken in order to counter depression. Other purposes for which these harmful’ substances are used include peer pressure, curiosity, sexual prowess, boldness, enhanced sport performance amongst many. These purposes could derive from direct peer influences, emotional stress, lack of parental control, inferiority complexes, loneliness etc.
It is found that taking hard drugs are more readily propagated in social networks of the youth where violence, “fun”, sex, sporting activities and even wooing the opposite sex are prone to be part of their day-to-day living.
As earlier mentioned, the family plays an important role. Divorce, polygamy, poverty and neglect of parental responsibility may also make the youth seek solace or strength in “getting high and forgetting his sorrows”.
Dangerous drugs like Indian hemp, cocaine and heroine are commonly associated with this vice, but an average Nigerian addict who does not have enough  money to purchase these drugs and satisfy his arbitrary overdependence has found out new and cheaper drugs for himself to derive about the same result. I was recently told by a friend who studies in one of our private higher learning institutions that drug addicts in his school, who go ‘broke’ after spending their allowances on cocaine and heroine often go for cheaper, over-the-counter drugs.’ A common cough expect mint, Benyline, when taken in an overdose gives a feeling that some of these known hard drugs would and it’s discovery has led to a ‘bit of diversification. It is cheap and can be gotten legally. How then do we control the use and abuse of these drugs?
A Federal Agency, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) was set up years ago with controlling trafficking, possession and use of counterfeit and hard drugs as one of its objectives. The organisation’s relentless effort at achieving this objective cannot be overemphasised, but what happens when things are gradually going illegal? The responsibility becomes a collective one. The concerned individual should be available to accept help from the family and the government as well.
Parents or guardians should adequately discharge their responsibilities of bringing up a child in a way that depicts moral uprightness and abstinence from drugs. The dangers of taking harmful drugs should be emphasised such that, a child detests such activities and stays away from it. Religious teachers could also be employed to instill the fear of God in them thereby making them self cautious·
Government programmes should be established to sensitise the youth on the issues of drugs. Anti-drug campaigns in forms of awareness programmes, rallies and lectures will all go a long way in cautioning the youth and correcting his views on hard drugs being useful in his “down times.”
These measures can drastically reduce crime perpetrated by our youth and also mental disorders that result from the excessive use of these hard drugs. Let us not forget that doing our part as family and the government and committing the rest to God will not just reduce the problems but probably erase it for good.
Gloria is of the Department of Mass Communication, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt.
Drug Abuse is the excessive illness or addictive use of drugs for non-medical purpose. It also defines a state, emotional and some times physical, characterized by a compulsion to take drugs on a constant basis in order to experience its mental effects. Drugs abuse give rise to dependence both physical and psychological. Dependence gives rise to mental, emotional, biological or physical social and economic instability. The effects of drug abuse on an individual therefore form the basis for its cumulative effects on the society. This is the major danger of drug abuse.
Youth in any society occupy a delicate and sensitive position within the population structure for several reasons. The Nigeria law for example recognizes that an individual below the age of seven is incapable of committing a crime and an individual between seven and twelve years should be able to know what he ought not to do that is if it can be proved he does not know and he also isn’t criminally responsible for his acts. Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, a person is regarded as a juvenile, and while he may be held responsible for his acts or omission he is treated specially under the law by the children and young persons Acts instead of the criminal procedure act. Youth is the period between child hood and Adult age, and that is exactly the age Drug Barons prefer to recruit for drug trafficking (age: 15-35year) most of whom are either unskilled, unschooled or student or the unemployed.
The impact of drug abuse among Nigerian youths has been a sigma of a morally bankrupt, decadent and wasted generation that must be revitalized and collectively salvaged together in order to prevent the total degeneration and loss of our society values and ideas. What is the brain behind our rotten society via the Nigerian youth? DRUG ABUSE, we can not all seat on the fence and criminally pretend on the menace of drug abuse that has eaten very deep into the fabrics of our society, where majority of the youths ignorantly depend on one form of drug or the other for their various daily activities, social, educational political, moral etc.
There are many factors that contribute to the influence of drug abuse or addition among the Nigerian youths, its include with: peer group, parental background, (broken home) emotional stress among other.
Firstly, a peer group is a form of societal influence on affected youths. For example, a friend can be greatly influenced to be a drug addict if allowed to interact with drug addicts, young and old. He can be tempted on one fateful day to join the bad wagon of drug addicts, thereby gradually ruining his career in life. Getting hooked to a particular drug is li9ke a gradual process that will reach a climax.
Dangerous drugs like cocaine, Indian hemp, (marijuana), morphine, heroine, tobacco, ephedrine, etc. some of these dangerous drugs are both represent and stimulants, making the users either to feel high, (on top of the world) or low (below the sea level) since there is a common adage (proved) which says show me your friend and I will tell you who you are’’ our youth need to be fully reoriented with respect to this social evil for example, in our contemporary society, some group of boys might be shy and afrai8d to approach’’ or woo beautiful female damsels to their side, they might result to taking hard drugs that can pull them’’ up and summon courage and talk to such girls. But why this barbaric method of toasting? Really, some boys even believe strongly in dinking alcoholic dinks as their own crude method.
The sociological implication of drug abuse among the Nigerian youth have been a major threat to the peaceful co-existence of all and sundry in our contemporary society, political dignity, personality and integrity of dependence of life.
Secondly, the parental background of a child can also affect the over dependence of drugs among the affect youths. Due to various family problems like broken homes (divorces) polygamous family, abject poverty, cultural influence, parental neglect, lack of parental affection and responsibility. A father that is a drug addict may greatly influence and carried away by any of his children. Like father like son.
Most parent in Nigeria today in their bid to make ends meet searching for greener pasture always abandon and neglect the p[roper welfare of their wards and children and expose them to the unofficial assistance of the so called house- maids. This ugly incidence will psychologically depress such children thereby giving rise to CHILD ABUSE which is an off shoot of drug abuse. Without mincing words, such youths will end up in taking solace in some illicit hard drugs for heir survival in life. With this sad development, the society is being gradually and systematically ruined uncontrollably thereby destroying the moral values of the Nigeria society via her youth. Wasted generation, of course.
Thirdly, naturally some group of teenagers are emotionally stressed but instead for them to seek for a proper medical attention because a stitch in time saves many, they will result to self MEDICALTOION which is a conceptual relic of drug abuse, thereby using hard drugs for such corrections. Preventions, they say, is better (an cheaper) than cure some students believe so much in drinking coffee, to suppress their normal routine of sleep. Can they successfully cheat nature? The fragment persistent us (or miss-use) of this stimulant might degenerate to drug addition or otherwise.
The various consequences of the drug abuse or drug addictions are so devastating and very shameful to the extend that both the national and international organizations all over the world are also worried about the spread of this scourge among Nigeria youths, they are as follows:-
Social violence among youths, armed robbery, mental disorder, 419, syndrome, social miscreants (area boys and girls), lawlessness among youth, lack of respect for elders, rape, many more of the social evil. Who is to hold ransom and blame seriously for the menace of drug abuse among the Nigeria youth? Parental background via the society or peer groups of our youths….
Curbing Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking  print
By Rasak Musbau
Globally,  June 26 of every year is designated the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, this day serves as a reminder of the goals agreed to by Member States of creating an international society free of drug abuse. It aims to raise awareness of the major problems that illicit drugs present to society and at the same time, remind youths and adults not to make the mistake of experimenting with drugs.
A drug is a substance used for medical purposes that changes the state or function of the body. On the other hand, drug abuse is a situation when drug is taken more than it is prescribed. It could be seen as the use of illicit drugs, or the abuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. It could further be defined as the deliberate use of chemical substances for reasons other than intended medical purposes and which results in physical, mental emotional or social impairment of the user. World Health Organization (WHO) defined substance abuse as “the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs”.
It is estimated that at least 76.3 million people struggle with alcohol use disorders, contributing to 1.8 million deaths per year. The United Nations reported that around 185 million people globally over the age of 15 were consuming drugs by the end of the 20th century. In Nigeria, there is currently an unending desire by governments at all levels to sensitise her citizens, especially the youths, of the evil of drug use and abuse.
Drug use and abuse is the primary reason why many youths are incarcerated, as well as a source of crime and health problem. It has become unprecedented problem in Nigeria that the number of youth incarcerated in various prisons across the country has increased dramatically over the last few decades. As a matter of fact, the majority of these youths have been arrested for drug offences, and/or have a drug abuse problem. Some of the factors contributing to this arrest are the lack of public awareness of the danger in drug abuse and the “war on Drugs” declared by the Federal Government using various agencies like the NDLEA, NAFDAC, etc.
There are lots of reasons why people take illegal drugs. Some take them to escape their problems while others are bored, curious or just want to feel good. People may be pressured into taking drugs to “fit in” with a particular crowd (such as is the case with street urchins, road unions, cult groups etc.) or they may take drugs to rebel or get attention.
People can become addicted to illegal drugs as well as drugs prescribed by doctors. When prescription drugs are taken the right way, they are safe and there is usually little chance of addiction. However, prescription drugs can be dangerous if they are abused (for example, taking too much or taking them when they are not needed). Mothers and guardians often administer drugs on their children with impunity. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs are painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs.
The more worrisome drug abuse in our environment is that of marijuana, cocaine and alcohol. Many Nigerians do not regard alcohol as a very potent drug because it is readily available and its use is socially accepted by the society. In some societies, drinking behaviour is considered important for the whole social order and so drinking is defined and limited in accordance with fundamental motifs of the culture. Youth constitutes a major portion of drug abusers. This should be of concern to everyone of us in view of the place of youth in national development. While casual use of marijuana and alcohol exist among the affluence, it is more common among the school drop-outs, homeless and unemployed.
From ancient times, the use of drugs has always been an inseparable part of occultism and the youth in tertiary institutions are deeply involved in this practice. The criminal activities of the drug users are now becoming too frequent for comfort. At most of the dark spots in major cities, criminals openly use banned drugs. To worsen the situation,  some of them operate like cults, carving out territories of influence where they intimidate, rape and rob innocent residents at will.
It is important to illustrate what drugs such as marijuana do to the body and minds of the users. For instance, marijuana’s smoke  is toxic and can lead to serious health disorders, including cancer. The negative effects also include confusion, acute panic reactions, anxiety attacks, fear and loss of self-control. Chronic marijuana users may develop a motivational syndrome characterized by passivity, decreased motivation, and preoccupation with taking drugs. Like alcoholic intoxication, marijuana intoxication impairs judgment, comprehension, memory, speech, problem-solving abilities.
Of particular worry is the permanence of its ill-effect among people who began smoking in adolescence. Aside the smokers, everyone of us, as passive smoker is a potential victim of some of the ill-effects. Yet, there is hardly any area in Nigeria free of this drug problem and the subsequent criminal behaviour of its users.
No doubt, when you give people a foothold, it might turn to become  a strong hold. Thus, the gory tale of open use of marijuana is an indictment on the part of our security operatives, especially the anti-narcotic agency. Ironically, some security agents legalized this illegal drug through their own illegal act of extorting money from traders. Some of them are also criminals in uniform who smoke at same spots where criminal activities are planned and executed by hoodlums. The traditional standards and values that place additional responsibility on holders of public offices in sane societies is almost nil here in Nigeria.
The police in particular will in the years to come have much more to do if the trend of crime and behaviour that aids drug is not given attention it deserves now. Plainly put, our anti-drug war is still cosmetic in approach. It will be foolhardy to be satisfied with current efforts that focus mainly on mere sensitizing at motor-parks and running jingles in the media without effectively starting the war from the production and distribution outlets. Treatment of cause should be more important than its symptoms.
In sum, anti-narcotic agency must step up the clampdown on the production, control of the sale, distribution and use of illicit drugs.  Agencies of government saddled with national orientation and those with responsibility of curbing crimes must be up and doing. In this regard, Lagos State Government’s establishment of Drug-Free Club and plan to include drug abuse in its school curriculum is commendable.
As this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is celebrated globally, it is important to emphasise that a joint effort aimed at breaking the chain of  addiction is the only way to stop the menace of drug abuse in the world.
•Musbau wrote from Ikeja, Lagos.
Staggering rise in drug abuse/addiction
The youths of a nation have been described  as the future leaders. Nigeria is a nation struggling to re-define her history. It is easy  to assume that this struggle will only continue,if and only when the youths of Nigeria take on this responsibility.
A growing concern in the minds of socio-political analysts and trend observers however,has been the growing number of Nigerian youths that get attracted to and often times,remain stuck in the pool of hard drugs and substance abuse.
The staggering rise and unbelievable silent acceptance of this trend makes one wonder if the visible effects are only seen as an indication of civilization, or  as a backlash from the many societal problems  which make the youths feel the need to show rebellion  thereby bringing about an acceptance of their own awareness and what they think should be the in -thing.
The impact of drug abuse among Nigerian youths is a stigma of a morally bankrupt, decadent and wasted generation that must be revitalized and collectively salvaged together in order to prevent the total loss of our societal values and ideals.
The nation cannot sit on the fence and pretend over the menace of drug abuse in the  society. The various consequences  of drug abuse or drug addiction  are so devastating and very shameful to the extent that both national and international organizations all over the world are also worried about the spread of this scourge among Nigerian youths.
The  question one needs to ask is, who is to be  blamed  for this irresponsiblity  and its implication  among the Nigerian youths?
Speaking on this issue with Saturday Vanguard,  Pastor(Mrs) Taiwo  Enioye, a Pastor  in the Redeemed Christian Church Of God expresses dismay over the scourge, blaming it on many factors.
What are the factors responsible for the increase  in drug addiction among the Nigerian youths?
Drugs and addiction have negative effects on youths. Youths are adolescents whose reasoning is quite different from that of an adult. Nowadays, many youths believe they know even more than adults . There are many factors responsible for drug addiction among our youths .
Negative influence of peer groups. The company some youths keep lacks the fear of God and this can be traced to their background, thereby following the wrong path. Some youths even imitate their friends because they do not want to be referred to as an inferior.
Another factor is emotional imbalance. Presently in Nigeria, we have a large number of broken homes and this affects the child’s upbringing.
Some parents are always at loggerhead with each other  thereby neglecting their parental roles. Children from such homes can not share their problems with their parents . Hence, they are open to wrong advice outside their home. In most cases, they shift to taking of alcohol or hard drugs or even the combination of the two.
Again, the spiritual controls the physical. Some youths are under the attack of  forces of darkness in order to divert their purpose in life and their God given talents.
How can drug abuse or addiction be eradicated  among the youths of Nigeria?
Every society is the product of the different families that constitute it. To have a society free from drug addiction, parents  should monitor their children right from their first day on earth and also monitor the friends they keep. Parents should ensure they train their wards in the ways of God and I know when they become youths, they would not depart from God’s  purpose for their lives.
How can  religious organizations help in curbing this situation?
Religious organizations should preach against it in every of their activities. They can also counsel  and help parents facing challenges in one way or the other.
Religious organizations can also build rehabilitation centers just like the one established by the Redeemed Christian Church of God called Habitation of Hope. This is a home for drug addicts picked from different destinations and both their physical and spiritual challenges are attended to.
What can be done on the part of the government?
The government has a responsibility to counteract both drug trafficking and drug addiction.
The government should put in place open campaign rallies in public places like motor parks, National youth service corps, NYSC, universities and other institutions of learning because these are where youths populated. Government agencies like the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency,NDLEA,National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, NAFDAC, should increase the tempo of their effectiveness by investing even more on technological devices that can enhance its ability to detect hard drug traffickers or consumers to frustrate the use of hard drugs in the society.
The government can also introduce the campaign against the use of hard drugs into secondary school curriculum.
Are you saying one can find drug abusers or addicts in secondary school?
Yes, we have some in secondary schools. The youths need to be deeply indoctrinated with  anti-drug messages. Drug addiction is a war the Nigerian society cannot afford to lose.
Drug use on the rise among Nigerian youths
More Nigerian youths are becoming drug addicts, while Nigeria gradually graduates from a drug consuming nation to a drug producing one. Weekly Trust reports
Despite efforts being put by Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) operatives towards fighting the menace of illicit drugs production, circulation, marketing and consumption, more people are being recruited daily by drug barons to serve as couriers just as many more, especially youths are increasingly becoming addicted to assorted drugs. In Abuja, the nation’s capital, many youths, mainly from well-to-do homes are increasingly joining the ‘big boys club’ that abuse drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Other form of drugs like Indian hemp, which is commonly produced in Nigeria and others like methamphetamine, syrups and tablets with codeine capable of intoxicating are mostly found in military barracks, schools, motor parks and even with local traders that sell provisions in kiosks.
Assorted illicit drugs that include mainly Indian hemp and amphetamine were recovered from suspects arrested within the FCT by the NDLEA. Other drugs like cocaine, heroin and some pharmaceutical products on the restricted list found in custody of unauthorized or wrong persons were also recovered.
A convicted drug addict who served his two-year jail term at the Central Prison in Benin City before relocating to Abuja after his release, Mr. Godswill Akatagbo told Weekly Trust that Abuja is a potential haven for illicit drugs after Lagos and Port Harcourt. Though Akatagbo refused to say whether or not he is still into illicit drugs deal, he gave an insight into the business in the nation’s capital. “Majority of drug consumers in Abuja are young men and women who are mostly from well-to-do families. They sometimes come to a place near Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja to buy 3 or 4 wraps of cocaine that cost N2,500 each. You cannot count the number of teens that come around to buy cocaine. There are a few advanced men and women but majority of the customers are the young ones. Some agents even hawk drugs. The mobile agents sell on commission.”
Akatagbo’s observation on the increase in drugs deals in Nigeria was confirmed by Nigeria’s country representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Mariam Sissoko when she said that the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB) has identified smuggling of amphetamine-type stimulants as a new threat in Africa. She said most methamphetamine intercepted on illicit markets in East Asia was found to have originated from West Africa with Nigeria standing the risk of becoming a hub for methamphetamine smuggling.
Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade expressed concern over the emergence of illegal laboratories for the production of illicit drugs. He said that the NDLEA had discovered two clandestine laboratories installed for the illicit production of methamphetamine in Lagos. The first laboratory was discovered in July 2011 and two Nigerians are currently being prosecuted while the second laboratory was detected in February this year. Three Bolivians and a Nigerian are currently under investigation in respect of the latter.
According to the head of clinical services, Drug and Alcohol Treatment Education and Rehabilitation Unit at Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Kaduna, Dr. Ebiti Williams, over 6million bottles of codeine are sold on a daily basis in the North-West part of the country. National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) report of 2010 also shows that over 11% of people in the North-West zone use drugs. He also said due to the rise in drug addiction, young people make use of cough syrups to make themselves high. “We have had few newspaper reports where people kill owners of pharmacy shops or chemists because they refused to sell codeine to them,” he said.
In the northern part of the country, according to the doctor, younger people abuse prescription drugs almost much more than what is referred to as illicit drugs. He disclosed that majority of patients who visit their facility are those who use combination of substances. “We don’t have people that use single substance; some take cocaine, heroin, codeine, cannabis and alcohol at the same time,” he said. Speaking on what addicts benefit, he said that they derive a ‘high’ from the drugs while some said it makes them feel very elated; it makes some have a sense of happiness and often times make them forget about their problems or challenges while it inspires others to write, sing, draw and do so many other things.
On what the drug does to the system, Dr. Ebiti stated that the human brain usually rewards a person in a particular manner. He noted that the drugs affect the reward system of the brain to the extent that when they don’t get the drug, it begins to affect them. Presently now, in the whole of Kaduna State and many other states in the country, there are no treatment places for those who use substances. The Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, he said can only take about 30 persons which he said is incredibly small compared to the hundreds of thousands of people that would require treatment in the state.
According to Amina Duniya, a sociologist and psychologist, there are different kinds of drugs including the hard drugs and the prescribed drugs. “When you abuse any of them, it becomes drug abuse. When we talk of drug abuse, it could be the hard drugs including cocaine, weed among others and when we talk about prescribed drugs we mean codeine even though it’s meant for medication some people use it for something else,” she explained. She said, “Recently, I went to a pharmacy to buy drugs and a boy just came in and asked for Codeine and he was given; right in front of me, he shook the bottle and drank the whole bottle after he finished he asked for water and left. It was surprising that the pharmacy attendants did not even see anything wrong with what the boy did.”
Mr. Pius Akuchi, a psychologist with the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi said, “Most cases of drug abuse and addiction start with peer group pressure. Such people are usually influenced by their peers. Psychologically, if they don’t participate in what their peers are doing, they feel unfulfilled.” He is critical of private rehabilitation centres, saying, “Those private rehabilitation houses springing up across the country, most of them don’t have full-fledge and complete structure of professionals. This is because of the cost implication of hiring the line of professionals, psychiatrist, psychologists, social workers and other staff. Some of them do forget the scientific aspect of handling the cases of the patients, they tend to make it solely spiritual, by embarking on prayers, fasting etc, or they will say it is witchcraft etc.”
Dr. Michael Amedu a Senior Registrar at the Psychiatry Department, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria explained that drug addiction is a case peculiar with people between the ages of eighteen and twenty. Though there are cases recorded of people younger and older than this age range. He explained that these substances referred to as volatile substances or inhalants could be fumes from petrol, glue, nail polish, paint, chemicals to dilute paints, bases of gutters, codeine in some medicines, and other such agents. “Addicts inhale these directly or pour them on pieces of clothing which they put over their noses and inhale. They also pour the substances in waterproof bags,” he said. “Also in locations like factories where the concentration of such chemicals are high addicts sit in the room and simply inhale the chemicals.”

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