Tackling drug abuse among students
Substance and drug abuse among youths and students in the country is becoming worrisome despite efforts of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to stem the dangerous tide, report FEMI ESAN (FUOYE), OMOJOWO AJOSANMI (AAUA) and FORTUNE AMAECHI (ABSU).
Experts say drug abuse remains a burden and a public health concern in the country. Nigeria is seen as a centre for drug trafficking and usage mostly among the youth.
They define drug abuse or substance abuse as the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain.
Nevertheless, abuse of drugs has been a cause of many criminal offences such as theft, burglary, sex work, suicide, and shoplifting, among others.
Almost 15 per cent of the adult population in the country (around 14.3 million people) reported a “considerable level” of use of psychoactive drug substances last year—a rate much higher than the 2016 global average of 5.6 per cent among adults. Currently, a national survey has underscored the drug problem bedevilling the country.
The survey was done by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse, with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and funding from the European Union.
According to the survey, the highest level of drug use was recorded among people between age 25 and 39, with cannabis being the most widely used. Sedatives, heroin, cocaine and the non-medical use of prescription opioids were also noted. The survey excluded the use of tobacco and alcohol.
Excessive drug use by young people has increased as they resort to mixing several drugs for consumption. Experts say “gutter water,” a cocktail of drugs, is a mix of codeine, tramadol, rohypnol, cannabis and water or juice and fruits called scutchies. Some youths are also turning to other alternatives, such as smoking lizard parts and dung as well as sniffing glue, petrol, sewage and urine.
Curbing the importation of opioid remains a herculean task for authorities. Two high-profile raids at the country’s largest port few months ago culminated in the seizure of over half a billion tablets of tramadol, a pain relief drug often abused. Nevertheless, the inflow of opioids is not peculiar to Nigeria. West, North and Central Africa also account for 87 per cent of all pharmaceutical opiates seized globally.
ABSU student ‘jumps’ to death after using ‘Colorado’
Recently, a 400-Level Optometry student of Abia State University (ABSU), Uturu, died after jumping from a three-storey building. He was reported to be on drugs when he jumped from the balcony of his lodge.
It was learnt that the deceased, identified as Francis Chibuike, allegedly took a hard drug known as ‘Colorado’, and was unable to contain its effect.
According to the National Institute of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health, ‘Colorado’ is often described as ‘synthetic marijuana’ or fake weed because some of its chemicals are like those in marijuana.
Colorado, also a street name for synthetic cannabinoid, is regarded as a psychoactive substance. It is also known as ‘Black Mamba’ or ‘Amsterdam Gold’.
CAMPUS LIFE gathered that the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the institution, Navy Commander ThankGod Evulobi (retd), confirmed the incident and described it as one of the consequences of hard drugs.
Why students, youths take hard drugs
Meanwhile, students across the country have raised the alarm over the rising spate of drug abuse. Most of them said peer pressure, depression and quest for personal pleasure were some of the reasons for indulging in drugs.
Sunday Afolabi of the Department of Animal Production and Health, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNNAB), maintained that the increase in the number of students taking hard drugs was a source of concern because of its implications.
He said: “Peer pressure, social occasion, personal problems and curiosity are the main reasons behind it. Then, the pleasure one derives from taking hard drugs is incomparable to the danger attached to it; let’s join hands to deter students from drug abuse.”
Also, another student of the Department of Mass Communication, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, (FUOYE), Ibukun Olaoye, said depression was another factor that may lure students into taking drugs due to academic challenges.
Olaoye, however, claimed that the main issue about students who still took drugs was that they do it for pleasure.
“Some of them are into yahoo, the money is too much for their brain to handle, so they look for means of lavishing the money
“Remember that, on our campuses, taking hard drugs is a status symbol. As a yahoo boy, if you’ve not graduated to the level of taking ‘Skirt’ and ‘Colorado’, you’ve not got to the peak of your career (yahoo wise),” she said.
A 200-Level student who preferred anonymity, noted that some students found solace in taking hard drugs to get inspiration and energy.
Olaleye Oluwatosin, a 400-Level student of the Department of Psychology, FUOYE, said: “The adverse effects of drug abuse in our society and on various communities with tertiary institutions inclusive, cannot be over emphasised.
“One of the major contributing factors that has led to geometric increase in this malevolent behaviour is social conformity.
“Then, some students engage in the behaviour to increase their libido, probably to satisfy their partner. They end up taking drugs to give them more strength to be able to go for as many rounds as possible with their partners.
“The pleasure they derive is just a temporal pleasure, and as a result of that, they will want the pleasure over and over, thus, resulting into addiction, which is very dangerous to their health.”
According to Ayodeji Solomon Fasaiye, A 200-Level Public Administration student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), the urge to build confidence in the face of committing crime can be said to be a reason for their indulgence in illegal substances.
Ademola Feranmi,, a 400-Level Political Science student of Osun State University, said: “A period of studentship can be a time of making irrational, impulsive decisions. It can be a time of living in the now, without consideration for the consequences that may follow.
“There are many reasons students get involved with drugs, and unfortunately, there are many instances in which the root of substance use goes much deeper than “experimentation.”
“Many students abuse drugs or alcohol to get high. They are looking for thrill, an intensified feeling that they cannot obtain through simple pleasures like food or exercise. This is where the addiction cycle starts to kick in.
” Research has shown that drugs interact with the way our brain works, and the way our body experiences pleasure. When drugs are used, the brain creates up to 10 times the normal amount of feeling a person should experience,” he said.
Vivian Iheme, a 400-Level student of University of Abuja (UNIABUJA), said: ” I don’t take drugs because I believe there are others things to excite me outside drugs. But then, for students who take drugs, I believe there are a number of reasons contributing to it: depression, societal or environmental influence, etc. The painful thing is that most of these students feel that drugs help them grow numb to their issues while some of them want to just feel high; but the end results in most cases are devastating, that’s if one is alive to even tell the story.”
For Christian Onyisi of Yaba College of Technology (YABA TECH), many students and youths resort to taking drugs to extraordinary things to avoid pain.
“They desire to show their friends they are strong, without considering the after effect. They take it to get high and not to feel pain for a while. The truth is that even alcohol is in this category and while we try to stop hard drugs, alcohol should also be stopped,” he said.
Ileromira Elizabeth, another student of AAUA said: ” ‘Colorado’ is one of the hard drugs that the government has banned due to the high psychotropic substances in it. In spite of all these, drug addicts, youths and teenagers continue to consume it and other banned substances. Drug dealers ‘feed’ them with the belief that taking ‘Colorado’ will make them have retentive memory for them to excel academically.
” Some drug vendors convince youths that God created herbs and leaves for man’s consumption and not for decoration, just to sell their products.
“Also, Nigerian hip hop songs promote the use of Colorado and other hard drugs. Though the government has banned the use of these drugs and attached penalties to them, there’s need to censor promotion of drugs in music videos by artistes. The lyrics of songs and music videos make teenagers think there is societal acceptance of these substances,” she said.
A strategic approach needed to tackle menace. A non-governmental organisation, Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry, has urged the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to develop a more strategic approach in tackling substance abuse.
Director-General of the foundation, a medical practitioner, Dr. Dokun Adedeji, noted that the anti-drug agency needed to double it efforts to checkmate drug abuse in the country. He said those in illegal drug business have devised new strategies in supplying the drugs, while the rate of consumption has increased.
He charged government to provide alternative crops to communities that cultivate cannabis. This, he said, would change their mindset.
“Drug abuse is a global issue and cannot be legalised in Nigeria. It is rather unfortunate that food and beverages sold to schoolkids are now being laced, and the society needs to wake up from slumber. The demand rate increases daily and needs an urgent approach to cater for the spread among youths,” he said.
Adedeji praised the NDLEA boss, Brig-Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd). He added that there was progress in the agency.
“Despite this impressive progress recorded by the agency, the supply of drugs has taken another turn as more tricky measures are being adopted by the drug peddlers to destroy our youths.
“Nigeria is on the brink of an epidemic, as far as substance abuse is concerned. A lot of collaboration is needed to curb this prevailing menace that is damaging the future of our teeming youths,” he said.
According to him, statistics shows that the global prevalence average for substance use was 5.6 per cent, while Nigeria’s prevalence rate was 14 per cent – almost triple the global average. An estimated 14.4 per cent of the Nigerian population, with people between 15 and 64 years of age, are involved in drug abuse.
Adedeji also stressed the need for youths to desist from drug abuse, among other vices.
Source: The Nation Online