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).
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 from
5.8 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;
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.