By Lola Seriki- Idahosa, kaduna, NorthWest, Nigeria.

Drug abuse is the excessive, maladaptive, or addictive use of drugs for non-medicinal purposes. It also defines a state, emotional and sometimes physical, characterized by a compulsion to take drugs on a constant basis in order to experience its mental effects. Drug abuse gives rise to dependence both physical and psychological.

Dependence gives rise to mental, emotional, biological or physical, social and economic instability. The effects of drug abuse on an individual therefore form the basis for its cumulative effects on the society. This is the major danger of drug abuse.

Cross session of participants, campaign against drug abuse at Down quarters
Recently the Voice of the People (V2P) in conjunction with the Gender Awareness Trust (GAT), Christianaid and UKaid organised a sensitisation workshop on drug abuse awareness campaign which attracted over 150 participants, they include, students, Youths, men, women and religious leaders in Down Quarters community by railway station, kaduna with an action plan that will further take the community out of drug abuse.

The resolution from the campaign which includes: the youths were in agreement to organise awareness campaign regularly on the dangers of drug abuse, the women also agreed to commit and step down the knowledge gained to other women through women meeting and women groups in churches and mosques and also the religious leaders promised to create more awareness in churches and mosques on the dangers of drug abuse.

In any community occupy a delicate and sensitive position within the population structure for several reasons. The Nigerian law for example recognizes that an individual below the age of seven is incapable of committing a crime and an individual between seven and twelve years should be able to know what he ought not to do that is if it can be proved he doesn’t know and he also isn’t criminally responsible for his acts. Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, a person is regarded as a juvenile, and while he may be held responsible for his acts or omissions, he is treated specially under the law by the Children and Young Persons Act instead of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Statistics have shown that drug barons prefer recruiting their traffickers from the ages of 15 to 35 years, most of whom are either unskilled, unschooled or students or the unemployed. There are several factors, which can influence the abuse of drugs among youths. The major ones are: peer pressure, weak parental control, child abuse, imitation, emotional stress, truancy among students, the availability of the drugs and the ineffectiveness of the laws on drug trafficking.

In his presentation, the project officer, Stephen John of V2P said that the reason for organising the awareness sensitisation workshop is to educate youths in the area to know what drug addict is all about.

According to him, “our aims of organising this sensitisation workshop campaign is to see the need for youths to quit drug addiction in down quarters, a community with high level of drug addicts, our campaign here will go a long way in educating the youths here and to tell them to say no to drug abuse, we will continue to talk about stoppage to them until they stop”.

Types of Drugs Abused by Youth: There are several types of drugs are susceptible to abuse by youth. These drugs range from most common and less expensive such as cigarettes and alcohol to expensive and more deadly such as cocaine and heroin.

Cigarettes – these are drugs easily available to youth. They are classified as drugs because the contain nicotine and it has physical and psychological effects on the body. Cigarettes are addictive and they cause lung disorders such as cancer.

Alcohol – Beer, wine, brandy and spirits are in the drug category mainly because of their chemical contents and potential for addiction. Alcohol has a toxic and sedative effect on the body and is available without prescription. It is a central nervous system depressant and its consumption can cause a number of marked changes in behaviour.

Caffeine – This is usually abuse through the excessive chewing of cola-nut or concentrated coffee. It is the active ingredient of coffee, tea and some bottled beverages.

Marijuana – Also popularly called Indian hemp, is a drug that contains tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC) which determines its potency varying from 0.2% to 20%. It is a hallucinogenic stimulant, and is usually produced locally.

Hydrocarbons – Glue, gasoline, cleaning solutions, varnish, paint thinners, nail polish remover, and lighter fluids, all distilled from petroleum and natural gas, belong to the class of hydrocarbons. They are usually inhaled or sniffed.

Cocaine – Cocaine is one of the most potent stimulants of natural origin. It is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant grown in the Andean highlands of South America. Illicit cocaine is usually distributed as a white crystalline powder, often diluted by a variety of ingredients. The drug is usually administrated by snorting through the nasal passages.

Crack – This is a street name for a chemical directive of cocaine in hard, crystalline lumps. It is heated and inhaled as a stimulant. Youth usually go for this because it is less expensive than cocaine

Heroin: Heroin was first synthesized from morphine with a bitter taste. Illicit heroin may vary in both form and color, from white to dark brown. Heroin is about three times more potent than morphine, and it is readily available in Nigeria.

The danger of drug abuse has been defined as “a state of periodic or chronic intoxication, detrimental to the individual and society, of a drug.” The major indication of drug addition is the irresistible desire to take drugs by any means.

Physical dependence manifests itself when drug intake is decreased or stopped resulting in withdrawal syndrome, which leads to a very distressing experience. Psychological dependence is experienced when an abuser relies on a drug to produced feeling of well being.

In conclusion it is important to reiterate the dangers of drug abuse in general and to youth involved in it.

Participants at the drug abuse sensitization workshop at Down quarters, kaduna
In a paper presentation by Mr. Kaleb Mark Ishaya with title On drug abuse, its effect and consequences, advised the youths against the use of prescribed drugs outside medical prescription.

He also advised against the misuse of drugs “refers to under dose, over dose and the use of wrong drug for a particular ailment”.

“Some ailment usually occurs in the case of safe medication or prescription from unqualified practitioners, drugs of abuse are stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, non- conventional drugs, anabolic steroids”

Effects of drug Abuse: damage to the eyes, nose and throat.
causes, complicated and infection: increase heart rate/heart diseases, increase blood pressure, shortness of breathe, causes harm to foetus during pregnancy/low birth weight at birth, lung/liver cancer, restlessness, quickened pulse and circulation and feeling of confusion. Side effects: peptic ulcer, headache, violence/crime/aggressive and violent behaviour liver cirrhosis, hepatitis c, fast aging, impotence/affects sexual behaviour negatively/increased risk of infertility, weight loss and impairs oxygen flow to the brain, mood swing/loss of ability to concentrate, addiction, HIV/aids arising from infected needles, brain damage, damage to body tissue, sudden death.

Predisposing factors to Drug Abuse: peer pressure, adolescence, curiosity, availability of drug, advertisement, culture.
Social Economic Status: illiteracy, ignorance, unemployment, frustration, depression, nature of job, euphoric effect, mental health/psychiatric disorder”

Another paper presenter on Drug Laws in Nigeria and the penalties for defaulting by Dr. Ibrahim BA from NDLEA Kaduna state command, itemise the various penalties for drug addicts.

He commended the organisers of the workshop for sensitising the youths against the use of drug abuse,

According to the NDLEA boss, “is important for communities to be educated on the danger and consequences of drug abuse, I promised to partner with Gender Awareness Trust (GAT)”.

Since the 1970s several approaches to drug abuse education and prevention have been implemented in school settings. Traditionally, drug abuse education has involved the dissemination of information on drug abuse and the negative health, social, and legal consequences of abuse. Contemporary approaches include social resistance and competence-enhancement programs, which focus less on didactic instruction and more on interactive-skills training techniques.

The most promising contemporary approaches are conceptualized within a theoretical framework based on the etiology of drug abuse and have been subjected to empirical testing using appropriate research methods

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