Drug Abuse And Administration In Nigeria: A Case Study Of NAFDAC Enforcement In Two Selected Local Government In Taraba State Nigeria
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.
1.1 Background 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.
In Nigeria, the most common types of abused drugs according to NAFDAC (2000) as cited by Haladu (2003) are categorized as follows:-
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.
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.
These drugs relive pains, induce sleeping and they are addictive. They are found in heroin, codeine, opium etc.
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.
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.
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.
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 Jalingo 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 Jalingo 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:
- Finding out why youth in Jalingo town engage in drug abuse
- Identifying and assessing the type of drugs most commonly used by the youths
- Assessing the extent of damage or less suffered by the community on account of drug abuse
- Educating the youth on Jalingo on the dangers, causes and prevention of drug abuse
- 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:-
- The research will increase the awareness of the menace drug abuse pose to our society.
- 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.
- As an academic exercise, it will greatly increase the body of knowledge.
1.5 Research Questions
- What are the effects of drug abuse on the society?
- What government policies are available to eradicate this menace in our society?
- Are males more affected by drug abuse than females?
- 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:
- Financial constraint but was able to collect individual views of the respondents
- Jalingo is a large town and the people are busy with their businesses so it was not easy to cover the whole area
- 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
- The research project of this nature has to do with people’s private life, most youths refused to cooperate based on the questionnaires administered
- 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.
1.7 Definition of Terms
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).
These are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system (Ekpo, 1981).
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.
Discussion of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations
The taking of drugs for health reason or purpose with prescription from a professional health worker is good but drug abuse occurs when people are not given the right drugs or may be given a drug at the wrong time and this in turn lead to irrational use of drug. Ignorance, quest for wealth, the desire to overcome shyness and be able to perform in public places, the desire to move along with peer, peer pressure and ease pain and relax self are contributing greatly to drug abuse in the community.
The research reveals that the problem of drug abuse is endemic among youth in the community in which most cases results from ignorance and negligence of the children by their parents. Many parents do not make out time to see for themselves the kind of behaviour their children manifest nor find out who the friends of their children are or to find out the kind of social gathering their children attend and the time they come back home.
The finding reveals that there are few health facilities owned by the government and some people hawk drugs in baskets or trays in the streets the same way people hawk oranges and mangoes. The discovery shows that most of these drugs hawkers have no formal or basic education and those who have formal education are not trained in the area of health education. Sadly, most drug abuser got their drugs and prescription from quack medicine vendors or by self prescription.
The finding reveals that most drug abusers were introduced into drug abuse by health workers without telling all that is needed about the drug they give them i.e. the side effects and the possible danger associated with the abuse of the drug. It is also noted that most of the drug abusers are student who depend on their parents for the means to purchase these drugs.
The community believes that using hard drugs result to mental illness and that males suffer most than their female counterparts. The community also believes that some members of the population stay away from workplace and school as a result of drug abuse effects.
The quest for wealth is one of the major reasons for engaging in the sale of hard drugs. This is because the findings show that the incidence of drug abuse is on the increase due to economic crisis, social stress, incompatible homes etc. It is noted that most of the sellers know nothing about drug interaction or side effects of drugs.
The menace of drug abuse in Jalingo town in particular and indeed in Nigeria in general is alarming and dangerous.
It is the sincere desire of the researcher to outline the following recommendation to the authority to curb the menace of drug abuse:
- Parents/guardians should ensure that their children/wards are associated with good friends because God’s inspired word, the bible in 1 Corinthians 15:33 say that “bad association spoils useful habit”.
- Parents/guardians should ensure that youths do not keep late nights before coming back home.
- Parents/guardians should inquiry whenever their children take drugs.
- Parents/guardians should ensure their children seek medical advice whenever the need for drug matter arises rather than patronizing chemist drug store.
- Community should patronize health centers where they will get professional advice whenever the need arises instead of patronizing quack practitioners for medical advice and treatment.
- Community should cooperate whenever there is any health program that is meant for them.
- Community members should participate and get involve in identifying drug abusers and the sellers of such drugs and report to appropriate authority for prompt action.
- Government should ensure constant supply on essential drugs to all the existing health centers
- More health centers should be constructed to make health service available to all in the area
- More efforts should be directed towards the creation of awareness on the causes, threat and identification of dug abusers in the community through public health education
- Drug addicts should be considered as people with mental illness and as such need to be treated instead of sending them to jail.
- Rehabilitation centers should be provided for drug addicts and after treatment to enable them to be useful to themselves and the community at large
- Regular monitoring and evaluation of the activities of patent medicine vendors and creating awareness on the deadly effects of hard drugs through workshops and seminars.
- The health professionals should double their efforts in correcting their loopholes
- The authority should make compulsory for any person who wants to practice as patent medicine vendor to get training in institutions where short courses on drug and drug interaction are taught e.g. Institute for Social Work and Geriatric Studies.
Drug abuse is a problem that is causing serious concern to both individuals and government all over the world. The problem is prevalent among adolescents who in most cases are ignorant about the dangers inherent in drug abuse. Many of them engaged in drug abuse out of frustration, poverty, lack of parental supervision, peer influence and pleasure. However, with effective counselling programme, the problems can be tackled.
As thousands of people suffered from the effects of drugs, I was motivated to take this bold but noble task on the study based on the menace of drug abuse.
The physical, psychological, social, as well as economic consequences pose in the lives of people, families and society at large has shown that there is urgent need to create or find out acceptable avenue to eradicate the menace of drug abuse in Nigeria as a whole.
As the researcher has said before, the incidence of drug abuse is on the increase in the study area due to high level of ignorance on both the side of the drugs, users and sellers. It is also noted that the habit usually start without the users knowing that addiction is forming. I believe that proper health education as contained in my recommendation, the cases of drug abuse in the area of study will be reduced.
In concluding, it is the sincere wish of the researcher that this piece of work will serve the purpose for which it is written i.e. will reduce the threat of drug abuse among youths and eventually reduce drastically the number of drug addicts and drug related problems among the youths.
The research should not be seen or considered as a mere requirement for academic pursuit alone but should be seen as research into the health care delivery activities and health status of the community to effect a change which will in turn lead to healthier life for as they always say “Health is wealth”.
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