ILLICIT USE OF TOXIC DRUGS AMONG YOUTHS IN THE FCT ABUJA
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Substance misuse refers to the dangerous or unsafe use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illegal drugs, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The use of psychoactive substances can lead to syndrome of dependency, which is a chronic, repetitive and enduring use of the drug despite its harmful effects; resulting in a high priority being given to the use of the drug in order to prevent other behaviors and responsibilities (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 U.S, Italy and Spain are on the higher end of the spectrum, while Greece, Germany and Hungary are countries with low-rate drug abuse issues. Seven million people (2.8 per cent of the population) aged 12 and older in the United States were deemed to be substance-dependent and using illegal drugs. Cannabis was the illicit substance with the highest rate of dependence, followed by pain relievers (opioids) and cocaine. In Canada, 2.7 percent of the population aged 15 and older reported experiencing at least one form of physical, financial, job or legal issue related to illegal drug use (Office on Drugs and Crime of the United Nations, 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 from 5.8 to 7.3 percent and the number of users increased from 14.5 million to 18.9 million (SAMHSA, 2013).
In every community the youth occupy a prominent role. They are one of the greatest assets which any nation can possess. Besides being tomorrow’s members, they outnumber both the middle-aged and the younger. The youth are a particular segment of the national population that as people is sensitive, enthusiastic, involved and the most successful phase of life. In terms of social-economic, emotional and other factors, youth are both the most dynamic and yet the most resilient segment of the population (Ajufo, 2013). Drugs are usually effective when used properly and harmful when misused or abused, but most young people are guilty of drug abuse (Mohammad, 2014). The use of illegal drugs in high income countries such as the US is a significant public health issue. However, this issue of illicit drug use has expanded rapidly to include middle- and low-income countries where the majority of the youth and teenagers are actively engaged in this criminal activity (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 such substances is growing in Sub-Saharan Africa in Nigeria and other middle and low-income countries, as well as high-income countries such as the US (Aliyu, 2014). While most youth have a strong understanding of the consequences of drug abuse, a high prevalence of this epidemic still exists 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 widely used drugs in Northern Nigeria (except for alcohol and tobacco) are divided into six classes: opioids, sedative-hypnotics (Sedative), stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, and inhalants. The fact that Abuja State is primarily a Muslim state, combined with the fact that public alcohol sales and consumption are fully disallowed in Abuja territory, causes young men and women to resort to taking other drugs to get high (euphoria), (Ahmed, 2012; Dankani, 2012; Jibril et al., 2008).
1.2 Statement of the problem.
Substance abuse remains one of the world’s major problems (Oluwale, Olatunji, & Olufunlayo, 2011), with millions of people abusing legal and illegal drugs, particularly the young (Jag, Glenn, Elinore, & Ellen, 2008). According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in their lifetime nearly 110 million Americans aged 12 years and older (46%) used at least one illegal substance such as amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana (cannabis) (SAMHSA, 2013).
The physical, psychological and social effects of drug abuse on individuals, families, friends and community are detrimental (Mohammad, 2014). The ill effects of drug abuse include; medical issues, academic problems, disputes, corruption, financial problems, psychological conditions and increased occultism, according to Ahmad (2012). Youth drug abuse has the potential to cause academic and social challenges as well as later-life job issues (Usman & Usman 2012). A study conducted in Minna, Niger State (Nigeria) found that substance addiction and violence were associated and this has made politicians use the youth for political gain in causing violence. This makes youth actively engage in drug abuse especially in the northern part of Nigeria (Usman & Usman, 2012).
A study also conducted to investigate the problem of cough syrup abuse as a new pattern of drug abuse in some selected states in northwestern Nigeria, including Abuja, found that there is massive use of cough syrup as a means of getting high (euphoria) among young people aged 21-30 years (Dankani, 2012). Hence, this study is conducted to investigate the illegal use of toxic drugs among youth in the Abuja FCT.
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;
- To explore the understanding of the youth on substance abuse in Abuja.
- To explore the perceived factors that lead to substance abuse among the youth in Abuja.
- To explore the perceived effects of substances abused among the youth in Abuja.
- To explore the perceived measures for reducing substance abuse among the youth in Abuja.
1.5 Research questions
- To what extent do the youth understand substance abuse in Abuja?
- What are the perceived factors that lead to substance abuse among the youth in Abuja?
- What are the perceived effects of substance abuse among the youth in Abuja?
- 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 Operational definition of terms
Perception– in this study refers to the views and understanding of the youth on substance abuse.
Youth – this refers to an individual between the ages of 18-30 years, who abuse one or more substances, but is not in psychotic state.
Substance– in this study refers to any drug or non- drug chemical agents.
Abuse – 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.