Substance abuse: The Looming Epidemic

It used to be called drug abuse but today, in view of the variety of materials abused, it is now called substance abuse. From our field experiences over the years, the rate at which substance abuse is becoming prevalent with a scary increase in the number of our youth getting involved, there is no better time than now to call attention to this looming epidemic. The whole society must rise up to work together to stem this dangerous scourge before it becomes a frank epidemic. I will try to simplify my presentation to enable easy understanding and so, I will follow these steps •Some definitions •Some statistics •Types of drugs available in Nigeria •Some reasons why people do drugs •Signs of drug use •Consequences of drug use •What we can do to stem the tide Nigeria and indeed our schools, can no more afford to live in denial of the reality of the rising tide of substance abuse in our country. The intention or objective of this presentation is to wake us out of our slumber, know the facts and consequently do the needful. For the sake of our children, their future and that of our country, the time to act is NOW. What is Drug? Drug is any chemical product other than food or water, that when taken, affects the way people THINK, FEEL, SEE and BEHAVE. What is Drug ABUSE? This is an inappropriate use of drugs for non-medical purposes with or without prescription and which then consequently affect the individual socially, physically or cognitively What is Drug Addiction? This simply means that the individual can no longer function without these drugs or substances. STATISTICS •Until 2013, Nigeria used to be a TRANSIT nation but now certified a USER nation! •According to a 2013 survey, 90% of drug abusers and substances are TEENAGERS and YOUNG ADULTS aged between 15 and 29 •From NDLEA records, about 80% of substances, traded in and used in Nigeria is cannabis/marijuana •Nigeria is the 8th largest consumer of marijuana in the world •About 25% of Nigerian youths have at one time or the other, used and abused drugs •Millions and millions bottles of cough syrup with codeine are consumed annually across Nigeria Types of drugs available in NIGERIA In order to simplify this for easy understanding, I have classified these into 4 categories: ●Socially acceptable drugs ●Illicit drugs ●Prescription drugs ●Miscellaneous •SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE DRUGS Included here are, alcohol and cigarettes 2. ILLICIT DRUGS •Marijuana /Indian Hemp/Cannabis Street Names – Igbo, Eja, Ganja, Efo, Weed, Tafe, Grass,etc •Skunk Mixture of weed, dried leaves and some element of cocaine Street Names – SK, Askari •Cocaine Street Names – Charlie, Coke, Crack, Coco, White •Heroin Street Names – Thailand, Brown, Gbana, Oja 3. PRESCRIPTION DRUGS These are principally as of TODAY – a)Rohypnol b)Tramadol c)Injection Pentazocine d)Cough syrups with codeine 4. MISCELLANEOUS •Gegemu •Flakka •Zakami seed •Scorpion Powder Some reasons people do drugs There are various reasons why people take drugs and these are just some of them: •Experimentation •Escape from reality •To fit in with friends or certain groups •Feels it makes them more “grown up” •Dysfunctional families •Absentee parents •Peer group pressure SIGNS OF DRUG USE It does not mean that seeing one or more of these signs, we can safely conclude that the individual is on drugs but more observation or scrutiny is required. •Reddish/rheumy eyes •Use of strong menthol sweets or perfumes •Seeking to be alone •Loss of interest in their surroundings or activities •Truancy – from school, church etc •Poor school performance •Frequent change of friends •Wearing dark glasses •Unkempt personal appearance •Rude, argumentative, aggressive even tending towards violence Consequences of substance abuse •Ambitions are truncated, poor motivation •Family disruption •Marital discord – separation or divorce •Dropping school grades •Contract diseases which may lead to death – tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS •Increase in crime wave •Cultism Our responsibilities to stem the tide The time in blaming the government is gone. Theirs is to lay the framework for overall policies but the responsibilities of the various segments of our society remain to be deployed. On the basis of this, I will highlight 3 areas of responsibilities in dealing with this growing dangerous trend- •The Individual •The Family •The School The individual •You bear the primary and absolute responsibility for your future and life •Be careful in choosing your friends •Make informed choices and take responsible actions • Determine your self-esteem and remain focused •Choose a role model to help guide your actions and decisions •Seek an up-to-date appropriate and relevant knowledge about drugs •Resist peer pressure influence The parents •Seek to establish and nurture a good and healthy relationship with the children •Always strive to lead by example •Create and encourage a Family Forum for discussions before decisions are finally taken •Create a Family Altar – for family prayers •Seek knowledge about contemporary issues affecting the youth especially, drugs •Seek professional help as soon as possible The school •Must play the parent surrogate role •Establish a drug advocacy protocol involving the school community •Seek ways to include it in every social program of the school •Monitor every student closely at all times •On return from home visits or holidays, search all students as appropriate •Look out for unusual behaviour and interrogate such •Establish a students’ counseling unit •Strengthen the Parents/Teachers’ Association Forum •Seek professional help as soon as possible CONCLUSION There is no doubt anymore that our country has a huge drug problem. The time for denial is past and this is not the time to treat this growing scourge with being neglect but a time to ACT. Every hand must be on deck to confront this creeping evil trying to destroy our children. We must not be tired to highlight the dangers of substance use to our young population. Being text of the paper presented during the 2017 Homecoming Program of CHRIST’S SCHOOL ALUMNI at Ado-Ekiti on Monday, 16th October, 2017

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