Illicit Use Of Toxic Drugs Among Youths In The FCT Abuja

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Illicit Use Of Toxic Drugs Among Youths In The FCT Abuja


According to World Health Organization (WHO), substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome which is a continuous, repeated and persistent use of the substance despite its harmful consequences; leading to a high priority being given to the use of the substance to the deterrent of other activities and obligations (WHO, 2014). the study aims to examine the illicit use of toxic drugs among youths in the fct abuja. One hundred (100) questionnaires were distributed to ten (10) purposively sampled areas using purposive sampling technique and the finding was analyzed using the simple percentage (%) method. The findings from this study reveal that certain social factors are involved in why youths abuse drugs. These factors include environmental factors such as peer group influence, lack of good home trainings, family influence among others. This finding also x-ray the limitation of the position of psychological and biological explanation of abusive behaviour which postulate that abusive behaviour is only a product of the personality characteristics of the individual concerned.

Chapter One


1.1 Background

According to World Health Organization (WHO), substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome which is a continuous, repeated and persistent use of the substance despite its harmful consequences; leading to a high priority being given to the use of the substance to the deterrent of other activities and obligations (WHO, 2014).

According to World Drug Report (2014), the prevalence rate of problem of substance abuse users varies between 2.7% in Greece and 9.0% in UK as rate per 1,000 of populations aged 15-64 years in Europe. The United Kingdom, Italy and Spain are on the higher end of the range, whereas Greece, Germany and Hungary are countries with low rates problems of substance abuse. In the United States, 7 million people (2.8% of the population) aged 12 and older were considered substance dependent, abusing illicit substances. Cannabis was the illicit substance with the highest rate of dependence, followed by pain relievers (opioids) and cocaine. In Canada, 2.7% of the population aged 15 and older were reported to have experienced at least one type of physical, social, employment or legal problem due to illicit drug use (United Nations office on Drugs and Crime , 2014).

According to substance abuse and mental health service administration‟s (SAMHSA) report in 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older are illicit drug users. This estimate represents 9.2 percent of the population aged 12 or older. Illicit drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or prescription-type psychotherapeutics (pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) used non-medically and the rate of current illicit drug use among persons aged 12 or older increased from 8.1 percent in 2008 to 9.2 percent in 2012. Between 2007 and 2012, the rate of substance use increased from5.8 to 7.3 percent and the number of users increased from 14.5 million to 18.9 million (SAMHSA, 2013).

The youth occupy a prominent place in any society. They are one of the greatest assets any nation can have. Apart from being the leaders of tomorrow, they out-number the middle-aged and the aged. The youth are a particular segment of the national population that is sensitive, energetic, active and the most productive phase of life as citizens. The youth are also most volatile and yet the most vulnerable segment of the population in terms of social-economic, emotion and other aspects (Ajufo, 2013)

Generally, drugs are helpful when they are properly used and destructive when they are misused or abused, but most youth are guilty of substance abuse (Mohammad, 2014). The use of illicit substances is a major public health problem in high income countries like the US. However, this problem of illicit substance use has spread rapidly to include middle and low income countries where most of its youth and adolescents are actively engaged in this illegal practice (Aliyu, 2014; Mohammad, 2014).

The problem is worse in African countries, as the use of these substances is accompanied with a lot of risk behaviours such as crime, violence and suicide (Nsimba, 2010). For cocaine and heroin drug injectors, often have high chances of contracting infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, abscesses and other ill-health problems, such as drug dependence, which manifests with complex set of behaviours related to mental illnesses. Substance abuse is a problem to users, when it begins to cause some damage to their physical health, mental health and social well-being. These damages come in the form of mental illness, crime, violence and diseases e.g. HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, which are related to the use of these substances (Nsimba, 2010).

The amount of harm associated with the use of these substances, is increasing in Nigeria and other middle and low income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa; as well as high income countries like the US (Aliyu, 2014). Although majority of the youth have a good understanding of the consequences of substance abuse, there is still a high prevalence of this phenomena occurring in Africa (Ekpenyong, 2012).

The reasons for substance use among youth varied, the most common reasons are; to boost self-confidence, to cope with stress, anxiety, to get high (euphoria) (Dankani, 2012), to socialize, to keep awake, to try to get sleep (Ahmed, 2012; Jibril et al., 2008; Oshodi, Aina, & Onajole, 2010), to reduce physical and emotional pain, to experiment and to alleviate feelings of hunger (Gaidhane et al., 2008). There are many reasons why youth abuse substances. In many situations, substances are being used as artificial problem-solvers such as frustrations, stress or tiredness (Nsimba, 2010). Others choose to use substances to enjoy the feelings or for recreational purposes (Sokro, 2010). But most of the times, youth use substances for experiment to find out more about the sensations they produce (Dankani, 2012; Jibril, Olayinka, Omeiza, & Babantunde, 2008).

Studies have found that, most of the youth have the perception that; peer group (Gaidhane et al., 2008; Dankani, 2012; Jibril et al., 2008; Okwaraji, Ebigbo, & Akpala,2009; Mohammad, 2014) unemployment, availability and affordability of drugs (Ahmed, 2012; Cheung & Yeung, 2007), family upbringing or background (Okwaraji et al., 2009) and gender (Ahmadi, Tabatabaee, & Gozin, 2006; Ahmed, 2012; Oshodi et al., 2010), are the most common influencing factors or causes of substance abuse among them.

In Ghana, substance abuse has contributed to lower productivity and general performance of the employees especially the youth, it also impairs employees‟ judgment and decisions, brings about high absenteeism and high turnover rates, occupational injuries, depression and trauma leading to excessive use of medical benefits. The main reasons for substance abuse is because of the belief that: it reduces stress, it modifies moods, it enhances performance, because of social and peer pressures and also for the purposes of socialization and fun (Sokro, 2010).

In Nigeria, a large number of the population mostly youth buy drugs without any physician‟s prescription (Mohammad, 2014). Substance abuse started becoming a serious problem in Nigeria in the 1960s. During the period, various professionals such as drivers, farmers, armed robbers, and hardened criminals used to abuse drugs such as Marijuana (Indian hemp), Alcohol etc. Studies have shown that, the use of drugs and other pharmacologically active substances was a problem for several centuries ago (Jibril, Olayinka, Omeiza, & Babantunde, 2008).

In the past, choice of such substances was limited to those easily available in the environment of the users, but in the present era, the use of various types of drugs has gone beyond those produced and available in the immediate environment (Mohammad, 2014). About 11% of the youth in Nigeria are reliant on one form of substances or the other and this causes a great threat to the sustainable youth development especially in the Northern Nigeria. Substance abuse has reached an alarming stage among adults, youth and children (Dankani, 2012).

The most commonly abused drugs in the Northern part of Nigeria (except alcohol and tobacco), are grouped into six classes: the opioids, sedative-hypnotics(Sedative), stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, and inhalants. The fact that Abuja State is predominantly a Muslim state and coupled with the fact that public sale and consumption of alcohol is completely disallowed within the entire territory of Abuja, compels young men and women to resort to taking other substances in order to get high (euphoria), (Ahmed, 2012; Dankani, 2012; Jibril et al., 2008).

1.2 Statement of the Problem.

Substance abuse still remains one of the major problems in the world (Oluwale, Olatunji, & Olufunlayo, 2011), with millions of people especially the youth, abusing legal and illegal drugs (Jag, Glenn, Elinore, & Ellen, 2008). According to National survey on drug use and health, about 110 million Americans aged 12 years and older (46%) used at least one illicit drug such as amphetamines, cocaine, heroin and marijuana (cannabis) in their life time (SAMHSA, 2013).

Substance abuse has negative physical, psychological and social effects on individuals, families, friends and society (Mohammad, 2014). According to Ahmad (2012), the ill effects of substance abuse include; medical problems, academic problems, conflicts, crime, financial problems, psychological disorders and increase in occultism.

Substance abuse among the youth has great potential to cause academic difficulties and social as well as employment problems later in life (Usman & Usman, 2012). A study conducted in Minna, Niger State (Nigeria), showed that drug abuse and violence were correlated and this has made politicians to use the youth in causing violence for political interest. Consequently, this makes youth to indulge actively in substance abuse especially in the Northern part of Nigeria (Usman & Usman, 2012).

Also a study conducted to examine the menace of cough syrup abuse as a new trend of substance abuse in some selected states in north-western part of Nigeria including Abuja, found that there is massive consumption of cough syrup as a means of getting high (euphoria) among the youth age 21-30 years, (Dankani, 2012).

This study is therefore carried out in order to examine the illicit use of toxic drugs among youths in the FCT Abuja.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to explore the perception of the youth on illicit Use of Toxic drugs among youths in the FCT Abuja.

1.4 Research Objectives

The objectives of this study are;

  1. To explore the understanding of the youth on substance abuse in Abuja.
  2. To explore the perceived factors that lead to substance abuse among the youth in Abuja.
  3. To explore the perceived effects of substances abused among the youth in Abuja.
  4. To explore the perceived measures for reducing substance abuse among the youth in Abuja.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. To what extent do the youth understand substance abuse in Abuja?
  2. What are the perceived factors that lead to substance abuse among the youth in Abuja?
  3. What are the perceived effects of substance abuse among the youth in Abuja?
  4. What are the perceived measures in reducing substance abuse among the youth in Abuja?

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study seeks to contribute to the dialogue on substance abuse in Nigeria in view of the massive abuse of substances mainly for nonmedical purpose. The study will be relevant to Drug regulatory agencies such as the National Drug law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Doctor, Nurses, Psychiatric hospital, Government and all stakeholders, particularly in their decision making processes. Similarly, it will serve as reference material for researchers and students interested in the issue of substance abuse in Nigeria. It is the contention of this study that a healthy, responsible and drug free generation is the recipe for cultural and socio-economic development of any society.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study is centred on the effect of drug abuse, alcohol and other related substances among youths in Abuja Municipal Area. The research questions and objectives clearly stated above depict the scope of this study.

Due to the large population of this community, it will therefore be vague to venture into an elephantine project in attempting to study the whole of the population of Abuja community, since this is an individual and self sponsored research. Due to the factors mentioned above, this study shall assess the effect of drug abuse, alcohol and other related substances with selected youths within the locality.

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms


In this study refers to the views and understanding of the youth on substance abuse.


This refers to an individual between the ages of 18-30 years, who abuse one or more substances, but is not in psychotic state.


In this study refers to any drug or non- drug chemical agents.


Illicit and habitual taking of substances.

Substance Abuse

It refers to an illicit and habitual use of any drug and non-drug chemical agent without prescription by a qualified medical practitioner.

Chapter Five

Summary, Discussion, Recommendations and Conclusion

5.1 Summary of Findings

What informed this study is to find out the illicit use of toxic drugs among youths in the FCT Abuja with AMAC axis as the case study. Relevant literatures were consulted as a means of searching into other research work related to my objectives of; the causes of drug abuse, frequency of drug abuse, difference between male and female youth’s involvement in drug abuse, effects of drug abuse, and ways to curtail drug abuse among youths in AMAC axis.
One hundred (100) questionnaires were distributed to ten (10) purposively sampled areas using purposive sampling technique and the finding was analyzed using the simple percentage (%) method. The findings are as follows:

The most indicator of measuring the rate of drug abuse in the study area are Age, Sex, Level of educational qualification, Marital status, Occupation, and Family background. More so, there is clear cut difference between the single, married, divorced/separated, and widowed/widower in drug abuse in the study areas as showed in table 4.2.4. 13.8% – n=13 respondents who responded confirm that, they have no formal education at all in their life as shown in table 4.2.3. Mostly youths (undergraduates)62.8% – n=59 use drugs and abuse it at a relatively higher rate as in table 4.2.5.

Many participants give reason for using drugs in the study areas as; It helps one to relax, It help one to sleep, It make one feel better and calm, It help one loose weight, and It enhance ones activity among others just as shown in table 4.3.7. The findings reveal that enhancing activity (42.6%) is the number one reasons why youths abuse drugs in Ilorin.The finding also shows that Alcohol (26.6% – n=25) is the most commonly abuse drug as shown in table 4.3.11. The finding also shows that males (46.8% – n=44) abuse more of alcohol than any other drugs as shown in table 4.3.14. While females (54.2% – n=51) abuse more of pain killer as presented in table 4.3.15. This finding also shows that environmental factors such as nearness to bar, neighbour who is into drug abuse and where illicit drugs are traded can also be contributing factors to why youths abuse drugs. From the finding in table 4.3.8 environmental factors stand at (71.3% – n=67). The search also showed that family crises (66% – n=62) in table 4.3.9 contribute to why youths abuse drugs.

The researcher also find out that male (80.9% – n=76) in table 4.3.13 youths abuse drugs more than female youths. The researcher also find out that not been able to contrite (31.9% – n=30) in table 4.3. 17, 46.8% – n=44 Uncertain of their health condition due to drug abuse, 55.3% – n=52 agreed that drug abuse lead to violent behaviour as shown in table 4.3.19, and lastly 35.1% – n=33 of drug abusers get into fight and quarrel after abusing drugs as indicated in table 4.3.20.

Drug abuse is as old as mankind and serves different functions to human kind, but when misused it can cause hardship to humanity. Drug use should therefore be used with great caution and when there is medical need and proscriptions. Drug use and abuse are no longer strange to the entire Nigeria society and the world, but they should be eradicated in the interest of the well-being of our youths.

Alcohol and Indian hemp was the major drug abuse by the respondent in the study area. It was found among the youths and mostly singles and married youths. Drug abuse affects almost all system of the body, including nervous system, Castro intestine, circulatory system, respiratory endocrine, and reproductive system, giving rise to a variety of physical and mental health disorders. The problem of drug abuse goes beyond damages it cause to the health of the consumer. Drug abuse has social, psychology and economic implications. The effects are felt by individuals, family and the entire members of the society. Also, the cost on industry and schools as a result of absenteeism, lateness, work-related accidents and decreased inefficiency is tremendous.

The health and social consequences of drug abuse create a major economic loss to any nation. Drug use and abuse affects the health of the labour force which reduces it’s over all productivity. Treatment of drug abusers is very expensive and huge sum of money are required to combat it as noted by Ibanga (1998:22).

Based on the finding and analysis of the data, it is quite clear that there is an increasing trend of drug abuse in Lugbe with her youths constituting the high risk group. It is also clear that hospital case and most accident cases, violent cases and mental disorder can be traced to drug abuse problems in the study area.

5.2 Recommendations

The finding of the research has informed the researcher to make recommendations. The inclusions of such suggestions are based on the researcher’s assessment that they are objective suggestions and would serve the interest of harmonious social relations. These recommendations are made taking into consideration that Drug Abuse is a phenomenon not just in Lugbe, but in the world today. In order to reduce the increasing rate of drug use and abuse and its adverse effect on the economy and the society at large, the following recommendations are presented here for consideration.

Recovery (rehabilitation) centre should be established to help the addict himself by first doing for them what they cannot do for themselves: – If addict could quite by themselves they would. A strong, caring, knowledgeable and experience support system and network of resources are required to be established to help the drug addict recover from their addiction. Families and loved ones can learn about addiction and themselves by reading resource materials such as this to help expand their knowledge of drug abuse, its effects on the behaviour of their children (youth) and also help to control their behaviour.

It’s also important to observe the living condition and the environment of the addict: – If the addict’s environment is considered an improper environment where proper treatment can be received, there may be need to change that environment. The reason is some environment may provide difficulties for the addict to be able to make positive progress. In the case of the existence of such environment, the drug addict may need a neutral environment where proper adjustment can be sought.

Family counselling should also be encouraged: – the needed family support and the environment of warmth and living lender care could do the drug addict or abuser a lot of good. Strong family supports have been recognized to have positive effect on many drug abusers who have been observed to possess low self-esteem and also low emotional intelligence.

There is also the need for long-term professional care for severe emotional disturbance among individuals may also assist in the positive lifelong remission of drug abuse.

Treatment and lack of proper self-discipline (self care) due to underlying psychological, emotional disturbance or trauma, is just one causal factor for drug abuse, therapy can therefore focus on instilling discipline properly without intimidation or physical abuse.

There is need to train the drug abusers on how to make better use of long-term goals rather than the frustrating short-term goals which often time lead to frustration.

There is need to introduce freedom and faire-play to our country’s political atmosphere: – our politician should not destroy our youths by turning them to political thugs and hooligan with the aid of drug abuse. Politicians should be requested to bring their own children to lead the political violent groups.

Gone are the days when the whole village was interested in raising the child. Our society may need to revert to the traditional societal norms of every adult within the community, showing interest in the growth and development of every child.

Sociologist and social workers should go out to fish for drug abusers who have the intension to stoop drug abusing behaviour and help drug abuse client to voluntary change their drug dependent behaviour and re-orientate their attributes, values and goals so that their problem of drug abuse may be solved.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) should be empowered in all ramifications by the government in their fight against drug abuse in the country. They must also intensify their antidrug campaigns in order to have a drug- free society with a special focus on the Nigerian youths because they are the future leaders of this great Country in the black continent of Africa.

Preventive education, treatment and rehabilitation, public enlightenment, non-governmental organization community mobilization and social re-integration programme should be organized to assist youths in the society.
Parents should endeavour to learn to communicate with their children without yelling or rage. It is presumed that a peaceful environment will always promote peaceful and normal growth.

In order to really help the situation, the government should have a well- defined comprehensive and realistic policy on control of drugs. This policy should include establishing a federal drug control centre, under the auspices of the ministries of health and internal affairs, which will collate information on drug use, and liaise with similar smaller units, to be based in each state.

Finally, any law, which is designed to control drug abuse behaviour, must embrace suggestions from the country’s relevant professional bodies such as social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, youth and welfare officers, counsellors, educationists, ministry of health officials and law enforcement agents.

5.3 Conclusion

Drug abuse has been considered by most experts’ worldwide to be more problematic than other forms of social problems. The problem and effects of drug abuse include; academic challenges, poor peer relationship, and several health related problems such as; cancer, heart disease, including mental health problem. This problem does not only have consequences on the individual but also to his/her family members in the aspect of finances, emotional resources, the entire community where one lives and the society as a whole and many more. Drug abuse by youths can cause adverse health effects or issues such deaths; it can also be a stumbling block to one’s success at work places, at home and in their various place of educational pursuit.

The finding of this research work is concerned with following; the causes of drug abuse, frequency of drug abuse, difference between male and female youth’s involvement in drug abuse, effects of drug abuse, and ways to curtail drug abuse among youths in Lugbe. This will help parent, policy makers and the government, teachers in fashioning out ways or policies that can help in checking youth’s accessibility to drugs. It will also help contribute to knowledge of parents an all stakeholders in the areas of direction in the war on drug abuse and how to educate their youths in the dangers associated with drug abuse. It will also help the various government law enforcement agencies burdened with the task of war against illicit drug use and abuse such as; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). This will make ensure that war against drug abuse is worn for the betterments of every body and our loving society.

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