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PSYCHOLOGICAL CORRELATES OF HAZARDOUS DRUG USE

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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to investigate psychological correlates (Depression, Anxiety and Stress) of hazardous drug use among undergraduates.  The sample consisted of four hundred and thirty-eight (438) respondents: 268 males (61.03%) and 170 Females (38.7%) drawn at random from five faculties and ten departments of the university of Uyo in Akwa Ibom state using a systematic sampling technique  with their ages ranging from 17-30 years and a mean age of X¯= 22.87 and  a standard  deviation SD= 3.48. The design for this study was the cross sectional survey design. The instruments that was used in this study comprised of the Depression Anxiety and Stress scale (DASS-42) developed by Lovibond and Lovibond, (1995) and the Drug use Disorder identification Test (DUDIT) developed by Bergman, Palmsterna and Schlyter, (2003). Three directional hypotheses were formulated and tested. Pearson r was used to test the hypothesis at .01 level of significance. The findings of the study showed that there is a significant positive relationship between anxiety and hazardous drug use among undergraduates. The findings also revealed that there is a significant positive relationship between depression and hazardous drug use among undergraduates. The study further revealed a significant positive relationship between stress and hazardous drug use among undergraduates. Findings from the study provided insight into hazardous drug use of students as implications and recommendations were highlighted.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND OF STUDY

            The use of drugs by young people especially the undergraduates around the world is now a serious problem considering the hazards and dangers it has on their health and emotional well-being. In Nigeria, the use of drugs is mostly associated with youths, to be more specific the undergraduates. Substance use has contributed to the increasing incidence of psychological problems among the youths.

            A drug is the only substance that could bring about a change in the biological function through its chemical actions. According to World Health Organization (2006), a drug is any substance that when taken or absorbed into the body of a living organism alters the normal bodily functioning. A drug can also be seen as any substances that have a physical and psychological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body (Okoye, 2001).

Balogun, (2006) also considers drug use as any substance that modifies perceptions, cognitions and mood, behavior and general functions. Drug alters the body function either positively or negatively depending on the body composition of the user, the type of drug used, the amount used and whether used singly or alongside other drugs. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, (2000) explained drug abuse as an excessive and persistent self administration of drugs without regards to the medically or culturally accepted patterns. World Book Encyclopedia, (2004) defined drug abuse as the non-medical use of 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 it interferes with the health and social functions of an individual.  In essence, drug may be defined as the arbitrary over-dependence or misuse of one particular drug with or without prior medical diagnosis from a quality health practitioner. Mersy, (2003) described substance use/abuse as a problematic use of alcohol, tobacco or illicit and prescription drugs. It may also be viewed as the unlawful overdose in the use of drugs. Drug use is a worldwide phenomenon which can impact negatively on health, family and society, educational and professional life.

Moronkola, (2003) pointed out that some substances alter the mind; change the users feeling, perception and behavior when they are used because they exert action on the brain. Drugs generally affect one or more of the mental faculties including mood, feelings, thoughts, perception, memory, cognition and behavior. Studies have shown that early initiation into drug use is one of the best predictors of future drug abuse and dependence. Studies have shown that youths constitute the high risk group of drug dependence and substance abuse (Obot, 1989; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, 1996). Studies have also shown that the mostly abused drugs or a drug that are mostly used hazardously among undergraduates in Nigeria includes alcohol and tobacco (Okanafua 1992; Okatahi, 2003). The abuse of various mood-altering substances has been reported to be prevalent among Nigerian youths (Lambo, 1960).

Global studies on drug use and abuse has revealed that early initiation of drug use is one of the best predictors of future drug use and dependence. A lot of factors account for the increased use of drugs by undergraduates in Nigerian universities. The use of drugs may be triggered off by emotional stress in an effort to alleviate a number of social problems. Youths generally use or abuse those drugs in an arbitrary fashion with negative consequences to their emotional, psychological and general well-being. According to Osayomi (1999), from ancient times, the use of drugs has always been an inseparable part of occultism and the youths in tertiary institutions are deeply involved in this practice. Drug use and abuse is the primary reason why many youths and undergraduates are incarcerated as well as a source of crime and health problems in our society today. It has become a big problem that the number of undergraduates incarcerated in various prisons across the country has increased dramatically over the last decades. Some of the factors contributing to this arrest are the public awareness of the dangers in drug abuse and the “wars on drugs” declared by the federal government using various agencies such as National Drug Laws Enforcement Agencies (NDLEA), National Agency for Food and Drug Control (NAFDAC)etc.

            The abuse of various mood-altering substances has been reported to be prevalent among Nigerian youths (Lambo, 1960). Drug abuse remains a major health challenge all over the world (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2005).  Many of the Nigerian youths ignorantly depend on one form of drug or the other (such as tobacco, Indian hemp, cocaine, morphine, Heroine, Alcohol, Ephedrine, Madras, caffeine, glue, Berbiturates and Amphetamines) for their various daily activities. (Oshikoya & Alli, 2006).


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