Causes and Effects of Drug Abuse in Nigeria

In this post, we look at the causes and effects of drug abuse in Nigeria. “Drugs cause changes” The term “drug” is ambiguous, it means one and another thing simultaneously. This means that the meaning of drug would differ depending on the context it is being used.

In pharmacology, it is a chemical substance administered to a patient for the purpose of;

A. Treating an ailment or disease

B. Relieving perturb (disturbing or bothering) symptoms in the body.

In line with this definition, drug is considered to be “medicine”. However, the ambiguity of drug lies in the fact not all chemical substances can function as medicine in the body.

Causes and Effects of Drug Abuse in Nigeria

Drug gang in their hideout – Photo Source: https://guardian.ng

To attain furtherance on this article it would be necessary for us to have a better understanding of drug as a word used in describing chemical substances.

Medicine as drugs to the human body is legal and socially acceptable but there are other legal/illegal, acceptable/unacceptable chemical substances which are not medicines but drugs. In light of this, drug is a mother word encompassing all forms of consumable chemical substances such as analgesics, coffee, cocaine etc which may or may not be harmful to the body depending on how it is used.

Read Also: Drugs Trafficking in Nigeria: It’s Effects and How to Stop it Once and For All

Forms of Drugs

A. Medicines such as cough syrup, vitamin C, blood tablets, etc.

B. Legal/ socially acceptable chemical substances such as coffee, snuff, cigarette, alcohol, etc

C. Illegal/ socially unacceptable chemical substances such as cocaine, cannabis, heroin etc.

Understanding different types of drugs

As earlier stated the first kinds of drugs are medicines such as analgesics-pain killers, anti-psychotics-used to treat mental illness, anxiolytics-used to treat anxiety, anaesthetic drugs- used to put patients to sleep especially for a surgery, antibiotics-used to treat bacterial infections, antineoplastic drugs- used to treat cancer, etc.

The second are the legal and socially accepted drugs taken for pleasure they are not as strong as hard drugs but they can also be abused. These drugs include snuff usually taken through the nose, coffee- a pale brown beverage taken from a tropical plant of beans genera, kola nuts- seeds of the kola tree which is a very good source of caffeine, alcohol-ethanol, cigarettes etc.

Lastly, those illegal and socially unacceptable chemical substances mostly taken to heighten performance usually called hard drugs they include; sedatives, heroin, marijuana, nicotine, inhalants, hallucinogen- all these drugs are psycho active substances they easily cross the blood brain barrier and affect modes, cocaine, amphetamines,-they are central nervous system stimulants.

What is Drug Abuse ?

Drug abuse is the incorrect, erroneous and unlawful use of these chemical substances. At what point is it said that a drug is abused.

A. When medicines are self dispensed or taken without a doctor’s advice.

B. When medicines are taken against a doctor’s recommendation.

C. When medicines are used persistently and to a fault.

D. Smoking of excess cigarette.

E. Too much consumption of alcohol.

F. Constant and frequent intake of coffee, pain killers etc.

G. Taking drugs that can change a person’s mood and perception.

H. Using drugs for non- medical purposes.

I. Ingestion of cocaine and other hard drugs.

Drugs often abused are analgesics, cough syrup, snuff, cigarette, alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, inhalants, hallucinogens, amphetamines, coffee, sedatives, cocaine etc.

Causes of Drug Abuse 

Why do people abuse drugs? Or why are drugs being abused? Few among the many reasons are;

A. It is obtained without difficulty.

B. Peer group pressure occasioned by the desire to belong and be accepted.

C. Ignorance. Ignorance is one of the prevalent causes of drug abuse.

D. Psychological and emotional stress in forms of depression, stress, anxiety, low self esteem, etc.

E. Desperation.

F. To heighten performance, very peculiar with athletes.

G. Due to social pathologies like economic frustration, unemployment, etc.

H. Occupational susceptibility.

Effects of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse has medical, physical, social, economic and psychological upshots that are life threatening. These effects bring about critical health issues that can affect the vital organs of the human body.

Medical and Physical Effects

A. Premature death.
B. Aberrant behaviours like slow and non-cohesive speech, easily angry, hostile, irritated, slow and abnormal movements, etc.
C. Damages the liver and brain.
D. Loss of self control.
E. Kidney and heart diseases.
F. Impotence in men.
G. Nervous breakdown which results in shaking of hands, head and body.
H. Irregular heart beat.
I. Raises one’s blood pressure leading to High Blood Pressure.
J. Will lead to Cancer of the stomach (gastric cancer).
K. Could damage unborn babies and terminate pregnancy.
L. Poor supply and circulation of blood
M. Hepatitis
N. Loss of appetite
O. Body odour.
P. Dark lips, fingers and feet.
Q. Brown looking and damaged teeth.
R. Threadbare appearance
S. Drug dependency and addiction.

Social And Economic Effects of Drug Abuse

A. Results in financial hardship and impoverishment.
B. Laziness/ poor operation in one’s career, academics, family, etc
C. May lead to societal exclusion.
D. Accident while driving.
E. May lead to theft and larceny.
F. Results in the engagement of one’s self in immoral acts such as prostitution, etc.

Psychological Effects of Drug Abuse

A.Depression – This is a state of hopelessness, helplessness meaninglessness where suicide is the only and best option. Depression is terrible as it can lead to many other evils like madness.

B.Sleeplessness – This is also known as insomnia, it is the inability to achieve i.e. start or continue sleeping even when factors for sleep such as absence of loud sound are not there.

C. Psychosis – a severe mental disorder that affects a person’s ability to relate with his/her immediate environment.

D.Hallucination – is a perception of stimuli that is not present, this stimuli falls within the stimuli of the five senses i.e. sound, sight, touch, taste and smell.

E.Paranoia – extreme anxiety and fear.

F. May lead to aberrant behavior – abnormal behaviours.

The effects of drug abuse are enormous; it affects not just the individual but extends through his/her family and to the society as well.

For example in 1987 many children died as a result of diethylene glycol contained in paracetamol syrup in fact this is one of the reasons why NAFDAC was established in Nigeria.

We have instances where husbands have beaten their wives to coma, fathers have turned abusive. In Northern Nigeria combining coffee or codeine with lacasera has become a norm.

Between 2008 and 2012 so many drug hooked youths in Ebonyi state were rehabilitated some counseled because of drug abuse, about 619kg of cannabis were seized.

Understanding the effects of drug abuse can go a long way to reducing drug abuse in Nigeria. However, as the popular adage says “prevention is better than cure”.

It is better to prevent drug abuse than to try to remedy its aftermath, to achieve this the individual stands as the primary and most important way as a person you have a responsibility to look after yourself, make the decision to stay healthy and avoid all forms of drug abuse, the family, the school, the society and the government are secondary.

However, in Nigeria many drug and law enforcement agencies have been established to reduce and control the abuse of drugs they are NAFDAC- National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NDLEA – National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, CPC- Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria, etc Drug abuse is not good let us stay away from it and help others do same.

Hope this piece helps.

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