The Danger Of Illicit Use Of Hard Drugs Among Youth In Tertiary Institutions

Project and Seminar Material for Education

The Danger Of Illicit Use Of Hard Drugs Among Youth In Tertiary Institutions


Drug abuse is becoming an increasing problem in Nigeria. A number of studies carried out in the country show that almost every Nigerian youngster at one time or another experiments with drugs, especially beer and cigarettes. The major cause of concern is that a significant proportion of these young people eventually get addicted posing a threat to their own health and safety, while creating difficulties for their families and the public at large into difficulties. This study sought to establish the extent of illicit use of hard drugs in Tertiary institutions in Akwa Ibom state, and to analyze the strategies used to address the problem. The ultimate aim was to propose a programme for prevention and intervention.

The study is a descriptive survey. In view of this, the field survey method was adopted to collect quantitative data, using questionnaires and interviews. Quantitative approaches were used in data analysis, inferential statistics such as Pearson Product Moment correlation. The analysis of structured items was mainly done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).

The key findings from the study were that drug abuse among students is common; both boys and girls have abused drugs with the majority being in boys□ schools; the greatest ratio of drug abusers to non-abusers among the sampled schools are aged between 18 and 27 years; there is a significant relationship between drug abuse and age, use of drugs by other family members and easy access to drugs. A variety of factors contribute to drug abuse with the majority of students citing curiosity, acceptance by peers and ignorance as to the dangers of drug abuse and having a lot of pocket money as the main reasons. Both the school administrators and lecturers face a number of challenges in attempting to curb drug abuse in schools.

The study makes a number of recommendations for policy and further research. A number of guidelines are proposed for developing a programme for prevention and intervention.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The history of human race has also been the history of drug abuse (Maithya, 2009). In itself, the use of drugs does not constitute an evil; in fact some drugs have been a medical blessing. (Maithya, 2009) Since, time in memorial earliest times, herbs, roots, bark leaves have been used to relieve pain and help control diseases. History tells us that the Chinese used Opium as a cure of dysentery before the 18thcentury. European countries such as Britain and Holland were known to exchange opium growth in their colonies for tea and silk with China (United Nations, 1995). Unfortunately, certain drugs that initially produce enticing effects, such as sense of feeling good, elation, serenity and power have evolved into a problem of dependence and abuse.

1.1.1 State of illicit use of hard drugs: Global Perspective

Drug abuse is a global problem that poses a great danger to the lives of individuals, society and political stability and security in many countries (United Nations, 1998). According to the United Nations (2005), the use of illicit drugs has increased throughout the world and the major world trend is the increasing availability of many kinds of drugs among ever widening spectrum of consumers. Of major concern is that children seem to be targeted as the new market for the drug industry globally.

Drugs and substance abuse has become the focus of research and preventive activities in the developed countries for decades (Muyabo, 1996). A study carried out by the London School of Economics in 1980 on students learning behaviour revealed a relationship between drug abuse and poor academic results (Otieno, Balswick & Norland, 1994).Africa has not been spared from the abuse of drugs by the youth. The continent, over recent years has experienced an upsurge in the production, distribution and consumption of drugs with the youth and young adults being most affected (Asuni & Pela, 1986).

Africa has huge young and vulnerable populations which has become the target market for the illicit drug industry. This constitutes 56% of the population aged between 17-25 years, which constitutes youth in tertiary institution. In Ethiopia it is reported that 82 per cent of the street children in Addis Ababa use some kind of a drug (United Nations, 2013). Besides, the threat of increasing consumption of illicit drugs amongst the young people and children, South Africa is becoming a major transhipment point in the international drug trade as well as a major producer of Dagaa (Honwana & Lamb, 1998). Gilberto Gerra (2013), the chief of drug and preventive health branch at the United Nations office on drugs and crime pointed out that West Africa is completely weak in terms of boarder control, undermanned ports and the big drug cartels from Colombia and Latin America have chosen Africa as a way to reach Europe. The United Nations official (Gerra) added that when a country becomes a transit point it immediately becomes a consumption country.

According to the United Nations (UN) statistics 2013, 37,000 people in Africa die annually from diseases associated with drug abuse. The UN estimates that there 28 million drug users in Africa (United Nations, 2013). An International conference on drug abuse in Kampala 2013 reported that young people in consumption countries were the most vulnerable section of the population, especially those in the period of early and late adolescence who are mostly unable to resist peer pressure and start experimenting with drugs in schools or even outside school. The international conference on drug abuse in Kampala (2013) advocated for an immediate strong inventions to reverse the trend.

1.1.2 State of illicit use of hard drugs in Nigeria

In Nigeria, reports of young peoples’ lives ruined by alcohol and drugs are rampant. The youth, especially, are vulnerable to the vice owing to peer pressure, media influence, poor guidance and role modelling (Kikuvi, 2009).

This has taken root in schools leading to the high school drop outs and idleness. According to Amayo and Wangai (1994), drug consumption has led to unrest and widespread destruction of life and property in schools. Nigeria was ranked among the top four African Nations notorious for consumption of narcotics by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (World report, 2005).

The Nigerian airport of Mombasa has been identified in the report as the major transit point for drug trafficking in Africa. According to a National survey on the magnitude of alcohol and drug abuse conducted by National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NAFDAC) (2012), the abuse of alcohol in the country is worrying. The facts and figures from this report indicate that 13 per cent of teenagers in the 10 to 11 years age bracket have used an intoxicating substance mostly alcohol followed by cigarettes. In the 15 to 24 year bracket, a worrying 11.7 per cent are currently hooked in to alcohol, while 6.2 per cent are regular users of Tobacco products, of this group, 4.7 per cent chew miraa (khat) while 1.5 per cent smokes bhang. Regrettably this age bracket constitutes tertiary institution going-age in Nigeria. The sad reality presented by the figures and facts in NAFDAC’S 2012 survey on drugs that is 14.8 per cent of the respondents aged between10 to 14 years old are completely oblivious of the risks associated with substance abuse. These statistics underline the need to educate our young people on dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. A number of studies have found a clear and consistent association between substance abuse and school achievement.

This practice is not only a determinant to school success and motivation in learning but also on psychological and physical well-being among adolescents (Abot, 2005). The initiation into substance abuse in the early stages of life of the adolescents is positively associated to increased risk of early school dropout and an involvement in deviant adolescent behaviours and behavioural problems into adulthood, which are manifestation in learning among youth in tertiary institution (Abot, 2005).

If left unaddressed, escalating rate of illicit use of hard drugs puts the country at a risk of losing generations as well as underdevelopment owing to the diversion of resources to address among others; basic needs for uneducated and unskilled youth, dependant young adults, increased health care needs among the youth abusing alcohol and drugs, the cost of policing will also be high due to crimes resulting from idleness and youth drinking habits, all those compounded will go a long way in frustrating the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) specifically the Education for All (E.F.A) goal, and the vision 2030 which envisages making Nigeria industrial and mid-level income country.

1.1.3 Drug Abuse and Motivation to Learn

Motivation is something that energizes, directs and sustains behaviour; it gets students moving and points then in a particular direction (Beighler, et al, 1993). Students’ motivation is reflected in personal investment and in cognitive, emotional and behavioural engagement in school activities (Fredrick et al., 2010). Virtually all students are motivated in one way or another. One student may be keenly interested in classroom subject matter and seek out challenging course work, participate actively in class discussions and earn high marks; another student may be more concerned with the social side of school, interacting with classmates frequently, attending extracurricular activities almost every day. Still another may be focussed on athletics, excelling in physical education classes.
Motivation increases student’s time on task which is an important factor affecting their learning achievement (Brophy, 1988) a motivated student makes a concerted effort to understand classroom material. The more motivated students are, the more they want to be accepted and respected by peers. Students who have little interests in academic achievement are at high risk of dropping out before they graduate from high school. Yet another student perhaps due to undetected learning disability or negative peer pressure and consequently indulgence in illicit use of hard drugs may exhibit withdrawal symptoms, a shy temperament and uncoordinated behaviour. Such a student may be motivated to avoid academics, social situations or athletic activities, pursue school tasks apathetically with an ultimate result of declining performing in academics. According to Ryan et al (2011) indicators of motivation in participation in school related activities include among of time spent on homework, rate of homework completion achievement of high grades, school attendance and perceptions of the connectedness to school, lecturers and peers.
Akwa Ibom state has posted declining results in Nigeria National examinations compared to neighbouring districts in the country among other factors that can be attributed to this trend is the problem of illicit brew. The region being under the Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) classification is devoid of any meaningful economic activity, this situation has forced many households to turn into illicit liquor brewing as a mainstay to earn a livelihood, school going children in those households and the neighbourhood get exposed and introduced to drug abuse at a very tender age.

Data available at the District Education office at Akwa Ibom state show that in 2012 alone, 16 students from 5 tertiary institutions were an agenda for discussion in several District Education Board meetings facing eminent expulsion. Again during sports and other out of school activities, it is common to meet students taking alcohol or being suspended for having taken drugs. In a recent Education Day, the District Education Officer urged that liquor licences of those who sell beer to students, be cancelled by the relevant authority. It is against this backdrop that the current study sets out to study the effects of illicit use of hard drugs on participation in learning in Akwa Ibom state of Akwa Ibom state with a view of suggesting intervention measures to salvage the drug abuse menace in our Nigerian Tertiary institutions.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Despite the overwhelming intervention strategies by the Government, religious organizations, non-state actors and many other keen stakeholders to curb the problem of illicit use of hard drugs especially among the youth, the number of school going youth being suck into drug abuse seems to be escalating day by day. The government for instance has placed education at the centre of the social pillar of vision 2030 that intents to make Nigeria a middle level income country. To show its commitment it has highly subsidized tertiary institution education thus boosting access and retention rates in the system, all these intervention strategies have had huge cost implications on the taxpayer including the opportunity cost. illicit use of hard drugs threatens and tends to derail these noble strides by demotivating the students in learning and subsequently ruining these school going children that the government intends to rely on in driving the economy to the next level. Drugs and substance abuse menace should therefore be given the attention it deserves if the intentions of this hefty investment in education are to bear fruits. Akwa Ibom state like any other region in the country experiences internal inefficiencies in the school system such as declining academic performance; apathy in learning activities and subsequent drop out in schools as demonstrated in the background to the study. The fact that there is no known study in the region that has ever sought to address the problem of drug abuse in tertiary institutions forms a justification of the current study that seeks to establish the effects of illicit use of hard drugs on participation in learning among youth in tertiary institution in Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to assess the danger of illicit Use of Hard Drugs Among Youth in tertiary Institutions.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of the study sought to:

  1. Identify the commonly abused drugs in tertiary institutions in Akwa Ibom state.
  2. Establish the causes of drug abuse among youth in tertiary institution in Akwa Ibom state.
  3. Establish the prevalence of drug abuse among youth in tertiary institution of Akwa Ibom state.
  4. Establish the effects of drug abuse on participation in learning among students in Akwa Ibom state.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. What are the commonly abused drugs by students in tertiary institutions in Akwa Ibom state?
  2. What are the causes of drug abuse among youth in tertiary institution in Akwa Ibom state?
  3. How prevalent is drug abuse among youth in tertiary institution in Akwa Ibom state?
  4. What are the effects of drug abuse on participation in learning among youth in tertiary institution in Akwa Ibom state?

1.6 Assumptions of the Study

Data from students, lecturer counsellor and key informants on the cause, prevalence, effects and the commonly abused drugs was accurate.

1.7 Scope of the Study

It was not possible to carry out the study in all the schools in Akwa Ibom state due to financial constraints, time factor and other logistics. Again, the study targeted youth in tertiary institution and Dean of students and therefore other stakeholders like parents and community leaders were not involved in the study.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

Illicit use of hard drugs may involve powerful people in the society and as such respondents might have being afraid to give information for fear of being victimized. School Dean of students might have withheld information about illicit use of hard drugs amongst their students since this would tarnish the reputation of their schools.

1.9 Significance of the Study

The findings are expected to yield significant empirical data and information on the effect of illicit use of hard drugs on participation in learning and school participation of learners.

The findings are expected to help the ministry of education officials in understanding the causes of drug abuse amongst youth in tertiary institution hence help them develop intervention strategies.

The study is likely to add to the body of knowledge in the area of illicit use of hard drugs in Nigerian tertiary institutions that may be utilized by other researchers.

1.10 Operational Definition of Terms


Having a physical and /or psychological dependence on a substance. Drug abuse- Drug abuse is the non- medical use of drugs that destroys health and productive life of an individual.

Drug Dependency

A physical and or a psychological need for a mood- altering substance.


Is any substance that, when absorbed in to the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function.

Hypnos Datives

These are drugs that depress brain function. They have quietening and tranquilizing and hypnotic (sleep) effects e.g. benzodiazepines.

Motivation in Learning

This is taken to mean interest in the pursuit of learning activities in school as portrayed by parameters like academic achievements, school attendance, participation in co-curricular activities, discipline, absenteeism and conflict with lecturers.


These are drugs from the opiate family such as, Bhang, Cocaine and Heroin.


A type o-f narcotic drug that acts as depressants in the central nervous system. They come from opium. They include hydrocodone, heroin and oxycodone.


These are drugs which cause alertness and create energy for example Amphetamines.


What someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol experiences when they abruptly discontinue the use of drugs or alcohol.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of the Major Findings

Commonly Abused Drugs among the Youth in Tertiary institutions

The study found that majority of the students abuse drugs with majority citing local brew (muratina), changaa and the rest various brands of wines and spirits packed in sachets. Tobacco mostly smoked and snuffs ranks second with of the students using it while marijuana and cocaine are also used though to a smaller extent.

On the frequency of using drugs, the study found that drugs are abused very often (daily). The findings that majority of the students report that drugs are frequently abused as often as daily at school agrees with the findings of a comparative study on drugs and substance abuse between the rural and urban schools which covered 952 students whose findings showed that alcohol and tobacco were commonly used in both rural and urban areas and that the use is frequent (Omollo. M. O, 2005)

Causes of illicit drug use among Students

The study found that there is a strong positive correlation between the frequency of drug use in the family and the frequency of student’s use of drugs at school. The strong association between the two variables implies that if there is a drug history in the family, the tendency of the student to use or abuse drugs frequently are high.

Other factors influencing drug use and abuse include peer influence which is ranked first among the factors stimulating the abuse of drugs followed by the students having too much pocket money and frustration from home.

On peer pressure, the study found that most students are influenced by their peers to engage in drug abuse. It was found that the students who receive more pocket money tend to engage more in drug abuse than their counterparts who get less thus there is positive correlation between the amount of pocket money and illicit use of hard drugs.

Further, the study found out that the students who come from unstable families tend to engage more in drug abuse.

Effects of illicit use of hard drugs on Students Learning

Majority of the students who abuse drugs are adversely affected academically resulting in declining grades to a large extent. The findings of the study thus indicate that abuse of drugs affects the student’s performance to a substantial extent. The correlation between the frequency of drug use and the trend in academic performance of the student is strongly negative implying that the more frequently a student abuses drugs, the more they are negatively affected academically. Other informants in the study that is, lecturers and Dean of students gave similar sentiments on the correlation between frequency of abusing drugs and academic performance.

5.2 Conclusion

Drug abuse among students is common and spells danger not only to the youth who abuse the drugs but also to the well-being of the nation, because the youth represent the future of its people.

Drug abuse is determined by the existence of risk and protective factors. The risk factors associated with drug abuse are many and include lack of family and school role models, peer pressure, poor school performance, conflict between the school system and family values, easy availability of drugs, poor parenting, pressure to perform, the media, low self-esteem, stress, legalization of some drugs, lack of clear school policies on drug use and abuse and relaxed school rules. Protective factors that make people less likely to abuse drugs include attachments with the family, peers and institutions, skills and performance capabilities that help people succeed in life, and availability of resources that help people meet their emotional and physical needs.

Regardless of the school type, students abuse drugs. However, the tendency to abuse drugs is higher in boy’s schools than in day mixed and girls schools.

Drug abuse is strongly dependent on age of respondents, easy availability of drugs and having a family member who abuses drugs.

The study has demonstrated that among Tertiary institution students in Nigeria drug abuse is quite rampant both in the types, quantity and the frequency of use. The drugs and substances mostly abused were identified as alcohol, tobacco and miraa. The study further identified the factors which increase the cases of illicit use of hard drugs among the students as illicit use of hard drugs history in the family, peer pressure, frustration at home and too much pocket money. Further, it was found out that illicit use of hard drugs among the students adversely affect their academic and social development. Finally, the study found that several interventions to curb illicit use of hard drugs at the school level have been adopted in most schools.

The respondents suggested that the interventions on illicit use of hard drugs need to be strengthened as well as imposition of stiffer penalties for the drug offenders. The family factors stimulating illicit use of hard drugs need to be addressed at the family and society levels to discourage drug and substance use among the students. Further, the government needs to develop comprehensive policy on handling drug abuse at school and equip lecturers with skills to handle illicit use of hard drugs.

5.3 Recommendations

The Role of the School in Addressing Drug Abuse

Any education programme aimed at addressing drug abuse among students should therefore be holistic and address both the risk and protective factors. The aim should be to strengthen the protective factors where potential buffers include strong family bonding, school commitment, positive role models and a strong belief in one□s own efficacy.
The proposed programme should use the protective and risk factors approach to help the youth understand how to cope with the problem of drug abuse, and the factors that lead to it. While addressing the risk factors, the school administration and lecturers should start by identifying risk factors within the school environment and cooperatively look for ways of reducing or eliminating these factors.

Parental Responsibility in Addressing Drug Abuse in Schools

While parents should be encouraged to become involved in broad preventive efforts, they have a crucial role to play in preventing drug abuse among students through their role as parents. It has been seen in the current research that most parents have limited time to spend with their children, especially in urban areas where most of them are employed. In addition, the research findings revealed that parents are often not good role models for their children, and are also not supportive when lecturers are disciplining students. Parental monitoring of children’s behaviour and strong parent-child relationships are positively correlated with decreased drug use and abuse among students (Adlaf and Ivis,1996:19). It is therefore the duty of parents to work with the school in addressing drug problems affecting their children.

Role of the Government

Schools appear to have inherited the drug abuse problem, but in reality, they cannot solve it alone. This is because schools cannot assume the role of parents, the police, medical experts or the church to mention a few. The findings of the research have revealed that most lecturers and school counselors feel ill-equipped to address drug abuse issues in schools due to lack of training. In addition, the few lecturers involved in counseling students complained of a heavy work load, an indication that they cannot do the work effectively. In the light of these problems, MOE should mount intensive training for all those directly involved in counseling students to give them confidence in service delivery. Apart from training, all stakeholders should co-operate with the lecturers in addressing the issue of drug abuse in schools.

Role of the Church

Although the Government, NGOs and the community can go along way in addressing the drug abuse crisis amongst school youth they cannot succeed without the church playing its role. The church is the care-giving, helping institution that has access to the greatest number of families including the youth each weekend and on other days of worship. In addition, the public ranks the clergy highest in terms of honesty and observation of ethical standards. This puts the church in the forefront of addressing the problems of drug abuse among the youth in and out of school. The society therefore expects church ministers to lead the way in addressing the problem.

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