Adolescents prefer an autonomous and independent life that is free from adult control, there by engaging in various delinquent acts (drug abuse, rape, robbery, cultism and vandalism) that are dangerous to the home, community, school and the nation. The impact of drug abuse among adolescents has been a stigma of moral decadence, violence, thugery, assault, madness and murder.
The menace of drug abuse has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society; however, with effective counselling programmes, the problems can be tackled through campaign against drug abuse by government and other relevant authorities Drug control counselling centres should be established in every community and qualified health counsellors should be employed in helping drug addicts by giving them special advice on how to go about the withdrawal system. Drug awareness units to be set up in all states by the federal, state and local government not to try people who use drugs as criminals, but to help solve their socio-psychological problem. This paper discusses the concept of drug abuse, types, theories of causes, signs and symptoms, effects, and strategies for counselling.
Key Words: Drug Abuse, Drug Dependence, Adolescents, Peer Group, Experimentation.
1.1BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Firstly, I consider it very important and necessary to define drug before writing on the main subject matter of this research work. Therefore one need to ask what really is drug? Since the early times, herbs, leaves and plants have been use to heal and control diseases.
The use of drugs in itself does not constitute any danger, because drugs correctly administered have been a blessing. Falco (1988) as cited by Sambo (2008) viewed that “chronic use of substances can cause serious, sometimes irreversible damage to adolescent’s physical and psychological development. The use of drugs could be beneficial or harmful depending on the mode of use.
A drug refers to a substance that could bring about a change in the biological function through its chemical actions (Okoye, 2001). It is also considered as a substance that modifies perceptions, cognition, mood, behaviour and general body functions (Balogun, 2006). Thus, be considered as chemical modifiers of the living tissues that could bring about physiological and behavioural changes (Nnachi, 2007).
Drug abuse is a major public health problem all over the world (UNODC) (2005). The use and abuse of drugs by adolescents have become one of the most disturbing health related phenomena in Nigeria and other parts of the world (NDLEA; 1997).Several school going adolescents experience mental health programme, either temporarily or for a long period of time.
Some become insane, maladjusted to school situations and eventually drop out of school.
According to Fawa (2003), “Drug is defined as any substance, which is used for treatment or prevention of a disease in man and animals. Drug alters the body functions either positively or otherwise depending on the body composition of the user, the type of drug used, the amount used and whether used singly or with other drugs at the same time”. NAFDAC (2000) as cited by Haladu (2003) 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. World Book Encyclopedia (2004) defined drug abuse as the non-medical use of a drug that interferes with a healthy and productive life. Manbe (2008) defined drug abuse as the excessive, maladaptive or addictive use of drugs for non-medical purpose.
Abdulahi (2009) viewed drug abuse as the use of drugs to the extent that interferes with the health and social function of an individual. In essence, drug abuse may be defined as the arbitrary overdependence or mis-use of one particular drug with or without a prior medical diagnosis from qualified health practitioners. It can also be viewed as the unlawful overdose in the use of drug(s).
Odejide (2000) warned that drug abusers who exhibit symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, behaviour changes, fatigue and loss or increase in appetite should be treated by medical experts and counselors to save them from deadly diseases.
On the other hand, we can on the broad sense define drug as any man made, natural or endogenous molecule which excretes a biochemical and physiological effect on the cell, tissue, organ or organism. It is very important to note here that drugs are capable of being toxic and all drugs can produce unwanted effects in a high dose or if taken incorrectly. Therefore, the difference between poison and medicine is merely a matter of concentration.
The history of drugs usage is as old as man himself and there is hardly any culture earth wide that does not rely on one drug or the other to facilitate interaction, celebrate festivals or to enhance religious rituals. Some of the drugs used then were kola nut, bitter kola, alcohol and
tobacco. In the time past, our forefathers mostly use available substance such as kola nut, tobacco, herbs etc. for medicinal purposes but today in our society, the youths use and abuse various type of drugs especially pressure producing substance or that which relaxes anxiety and tension.
The practice has spread through universities, colleges, high school and even elementary schools. The illicit use of drugs is corrupt, dangerous, weakening and eating deep into the fabric of the polity and at the same time claiming hundreds of lives each year and these mostly affected are young people. The problem is unbearably alarming that it has extended beyond the usual characteristic profile or drug abusers being male adults and urban base but now includes females, young stars and those who lives in rural areas. In Nigeria in particular, the menace was not confined to a particular sex or age, it is found among top professionals, high class executives, musicians, truck drivers as well as sport men and women.
1.1.1 TYPES OF DRUG ABUSE
In Nigeria, the most common types of abused drugs according to NAFDAC (2000) as cited by Haladu (2003) are categorized as follows:- 1. Stimulants: These are substances that directly act and stimulate the central nervous system.
Users at the initial stage experience pleasant effects such as energy
increase. The major source of these comes from caffeine substance.
2. 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.
3. Narcotics: These drugs relive pains, induce sleeping and they are addictive. They are found in heroin, codeine, opium etc.
4. 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.
5. Miscellaneous: This is a group of volatile solvents or inhalants that provide euphoria, emotional dis-inhibition and perpetual distortion of thought to the user. The main sources are glues, spot removers, tube repair, perfumes, chemicals etc.
6. Tranquilizers: They are believed to produce calmness without bringing drowsiness, they are chiefly derived from Librium, Valium etc.
The term “drug abuse” is excessive or persistent usage of drugs without regard for accepted medical practice. Given this definition, it means that all drugs can be abused. Drug abuse is often used to refer to psychoactive or hard drugs which has effect on the central nervous system; the mind,
mood, behaviour and eventually the total health and personality to the individual.
The resultant effects of drug abuse are visible in both urban and rural areas. Sick men and women are roaming our streets, we witnessing large number of youths who are acutely intoxicated exhibiting violence and violent behaviours everywhere most especially “Okada” riders.
1.1.2 CAUSES OF DRUG ABUSE
Haladu (2003) gave the following as the main causes:-
i. Experimental Curiosity: Curiosity to experiment the unknown facts about drugs thus motivates adolescents into drug use. The first experience in drug abuse produces a state of arousal such as happiness and pleasure which in turn motivate them to continue.
ii. Peer Group Influence: Peer pressure plays a major role in influencing many adolescents into drug abuse. This is because peer pressure is a fact of teenage and youth life. As they try to depend less on parents, they show more dependency on their friends. In Nigeria, as other parts of the world, one may not enjoy the company of others unless he conforms to their norms.
iii. Lack of parental supervision: Many parents have no time to supervise their sons and daughters. Some parents have little or no interaction with
family members, while others put pressure on their children to pass
exams or perform better in their studies. These phenomena initialize and increases drug abuse.
iv. Personality Problems due to socio-Economic Conditions: Adolescents with personality problems arising from social conditions have been found to abuse drugs. The social and economic status of most Nigerians is below average. Poverty is widespread, broken homes and unemployment is on the increase, therefore our youths roam the streets looking for employment or resort to begging. These situations have been aggravated by lack of skills, opportunities for training and re-training and lack of committed action to promote job creation by private and community entrepreneurs. Frustration arising from these problems lead to recourse in drug abuse for temporarily removing the tension and problems arising from it.
v. The Need for Energy to Work for Long Hours: The increasing economic deterioration that leads to poverty and disempowerment of the people has driven many parents to send their children out in search of a means of earning something for contribution to family income.
These children engage in hawking, bus conducting, head loading, scavenging, serving in food canteens etc and are prone to drug taking so as to gain more energy to work for long hours.
vi. Availability of the Drugs: In many countries, drugs have dropped in prices as supplies have increased.
vii. The Need to prevent the Occurrence of Withdrawal symptoms: If a drug is stopped, the user experiences what is termed “withdrawal symptoms”. Pain, anxiety, excessive sweating and shaking characterize such symptoms. The inability of the drug user to tolerate the symptoms motivates him to continue (Ige, 2000).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The adolescents and youths of Mararaba town constitute the high risk group with female getting more involved than they used to. The attention of the government has been drawn to this menace hence government has put in place National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). The agency is charged with the responsibility of combating the problem of drug abuse and to check the trafficking of hard drugs. However, drug abuse continues to ravage the energetic strata of our society.
The menace of drug abuse world over and Nigeria in particular has generated a great deal of National controversy, opposition, criticism and debate. The issue of what constitute drug abuse in Mararaba town has become a thing of concern amongst the health workers, educational elites and other people alike. It is against this back ground that the researcher
intend to investigate the “side effect” of drugs when wrongly used or not
used according to Doctor’s prescriptions or other crude means of handling drugs among the youths in our society.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The study will aim at:
i. Finding out why youth in Mararaba town engage in drug abuse
ii. Identifying and assessing the type of drugs most commonly
used by the youths
iii. Assessing the extent of damage or less suffered by the
community on account of drug abuse
iv. Educating the youth on Mararaba on the dangers, causes and
prevention of drug abuse
v. Hastening and widening many readers knowledge on the efforts
made by the government and health workers on the control and
prevention of drug abuse.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this research will be significant in the following areas:-
i. The research will increase the awareness of the menace drug
abuse pose to our society.
ii. For policy makers, the research will be of great benefit. It will assist them in creating policies that will enable the eradication of drug abuse in our society.
iii. As an academic exercise, it will greatly increase the body of knowledge.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
i. What are the effects of drug abuse on the society?
ii. What government policies are available to eradicate this
menace in our society?
iii. Are males more affected by drug abuse than females?
iv. Does drug abuse lead to certain mental illnesses
1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The following are some of the difficulties encountered by the researcher:
i. Financial constraint but was able to collect individual views of the respondents
ii. Mararaba is a large town and the people are busy with their businesses so it was not easy to cover the whole area
iii. Another problem that this researcher faced was time factor as there were some other commitment that line up to be executed in conjunction with this project work but with concerted effort,
the researcher was able to cover key areas in other to have a
widening perspective and to come out with a comprehensive
and meaningful piece of work
iv. The research project of this nature has to do with people’s
private life, most youths refused to cooperate based on the
v. Some of the questionnaires were not properly filled and
questions were not answered because they thought they will be exposed. Therefore, the result of the study cannot be generalized due to the limited area chosen.
i. Drug: A drug refers to a substance that could bring about a change in the biological function through its chemical actions (Okoye, 2001).
ii. Drug Abuse: Manbe (2008) defined drug abuse as the excessive, maladaptive or addictive use of drugs for non- medical purpose.
iii. Drug Addiction: A state of periodic or chronic intoxication detrimental to the individual (Okuh, 1978).
iv. Sedative Drug: This depresses the central nervous system. These drugs lessen excitement or functional activities e.g. Barbiturate or mosadon (Orubu, 1983).
v. Narcotics: These are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system (Ekpo, 1981).
vi. Alcoholism: This is a disease condition in the human system characterized by excessive and continuous consumption of alcohol (Odejide, 2000).
vii. Drug Dependence: A state of emotional reliance upon drug in order to maintain a drug induced state.
viii. Illicit: Forbidden unlawfu