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Taming the drug abuse scourge



By Ranti Adedoyin


The menace of drug abuse in Nigeria has reached a frightening proportion that it has pervaded every fiber in the society. The issue is no longer limited to a particular geography or age. These days, drugs is being abused by teenagers, adults but most commonly among youths.


One may speculate that there is not one of our tertiary institutions or even primary and secondary ones that is free of abusers. It is a popularly held belief that the youths of any nation are the leaders of tomorrow. If majority of the leaders of tomorrow are addicted to substances they have no control over, then we must wake up and combat this menace before the future national development is brought to doom.


In Pharmacology, a drug is a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention or diagnosis of diseases or used otherwise to enhance physical and mental welfare.


On the other hand, drug abuse is when you use legal or illegal substances in ways you should not and this time around; it is more destructive than constructive for the individual and the society as a whole. You may take more than the regular dose of pills or use someone’s prescription. You may abuse drugs to feel good, ease stress or avoid reality.


Before 2013, Nigeria was only considered as a transit nation for illicit drugs but now, we are an internationally recognized user nation. There is no particular major city in Nigeria that does not have joints, clubs or ramshackle where the young ones gather to buy or use drugs to feel good.


In Kano, about 3 million codeine containing cough preparations are consumed daily and over 6 million bottles are sold in the North West part of the country. According to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), as at 2010; over 11% of people in the North-West zone use drugs.


As stated earlier, drug abuse in Nigeria knows no geography or age. According to the 2015 annual report of the NDLEA, the arrest for dugs related offenses for that year in the South-West is 1,885, the North-Central followed with 1,605, South-South, South-East and North-East recorded 1,380; 978 and 824 respectively.

Drug use and abuse has been a major source of crime and health problem in our society today. Some of the most commonly abused drugs are but not limited to; Tobacco, Alcohol, marijuana, codeine, rephynol, etc.

Tobacco is used universally by people throughout the world. Tobacco is rewarding for their manufacturing concerns and to the government because it brings in huge financial benefits. However, because of the danger associated with cigarette smoking, such as cancer of the lung, coronary heart diseases which leads to premature death, the federal government made it compulsory that every advertisement on any brand of cigarette must carry warning like “cigarette is dangerous to health and smokers are liable to die young”


The rate of smoking among Nigerians is high and seems to be increasing along with another trend of e- cigarettes, shisha and other vaping accessories. Many are oblivious of the harm of such accessories. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, cigarette smokers generally inhale 8-12 puffs over 5-7 minutes whereas a shisha session lasts 20-80 minutes and involves 50-200 puffs. Therefore, in one sisha session, a smoker can inhale the same amount of smoke that would be inhaled by smoking 100 cigarettes.


The smoke from the shisha pipe contains many toxic substances that are present in cigarettes including tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals. These substances are known to cause cancer, respiratory and heart conditions and other type of diseases for both the smokers and the second hand smokers.


Alcohol is a substance that has been consumed by man since many centuries ago. It is used in almost all parts of the world. In some societies in Nigeria today, drinking behaviour is considered important for the whole social order and so drinking is defined and limited in accordance with fundamental motifs of the culture. In Nigeria however, alcohol has contributed immensely to various road accidents and crimes. Many years ago alcohol used to be the preserve of adult males but recent studies shows how alcohol is now abused by young ones and also females.


When alcohol is taken in excess, it deadens the nervous system, increases the heartbeat, causes blood vessels to dilate, causes bad digestion notably of vitamin B especially when taken on empty stomach, it interferes with the power of judgment and poisons the higher brain and nerve center.


Though illegal to use or have possession of, marijuana is a commonly abused drug and many people are unaware of its harmful effects. Marijuana abuse can lead to distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking, problem solving, learning and with memory. It could have effect on the consumer socially and also financially.


Codeine is no exception, although codeine is a prescription drug; the abuse of codeine can cause significant damage to an individual’s life. Some of these effects may include: acute pancreatitis, major depression, liver and kidney damage, heightened pain sensitivity, seizures, Bradycardia, cold clammy skin, decreased muscle tone and Coma.


Often, individuals who have a substance abuse problem struggle with other mental disorders, impaired social relationships, loss of productivity at school or work, financial problems, legal issues, domestic problems, job loss, etc.


This menace is growing day by day in the society and its two major causes can be narrowed down to peer pressure and depression. We all associate with different type of people every day, people otherwise known as friends. Through the pressure from these friends, people especially teenagers and youths end up having a taste of these drugs and once this is done, they continue to take it and become addicted to it.


On the other hand, when certain things happen to someone that is considered very disheartening, the person starts to think of the best way to become happy once more hence, the use of hard drugs will come. This later turns to a habit, hence drug abuse.



The issue of drug abuse in Nigeria has attracted interest from different groups, organizations, individuals, government ministries and agencies including the National Assembly.


The senate has conducted public hearing in the matter and existing laws are being reviewed and new ones crafted to combat the present and future danger associated with drug abuse. Some organizations like the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), have also activated different machineries to help the society combat the problem. The Federal Government has also put a ban on cough syrups that contain codeine.


In all, a multi-dimensional approach is highly recommended which will involve: teaching the effects of drug abuse in schools, on the media, other platforms. Parents should create enough time to attend to the needs of their children, monitor the kind of friends their children interact with, guide against bad company and guide them properly into adulthood. The community/religious groups could help combating this menace through their utterances and conscious actions.

There should be aggressive extinction of all sources of these hard drugs, including farms where they are planted by a joint force of authorities. Continuous campaign against the use of hard drugs at the federal, state and local levels and stiff penalty should be melted against anybody found dealing in hard drugs.


The pharmaceutical industry comprising of all the manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers have a big role to play. They must be extra vigilant in the handling of sensitive drugs that are prone to abuse. Government must ensure that the drug distribution system is sanitized and access to dangerous drugs is severely other words, everybody involved in handling drugs must be brought under regulatory control.


Drug abuse is worse than any other issue confronting us as it can destroy everything we have now and severely constrain our future. This menace must therefore be combated before it is too late.


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