Friday, 1 April 2016

Opinion: Nigerian youth and substance abuse

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Drug or substance abuse is a common phenomenon in Nigeria today. Across the country, people of all ages and stages of life engage in this self destructive act, but it is most predominant among the youths. The reasons for this act are many, but it is best known to the individuals who engage in the act.

Drug/substance abuse can be described as a compulsive, excessive and self damaging use of drugs/substances, without proper prescription or recommendation by a doctor or physician.  This offen leads to serious physiological injury such as damage to kidneys, liver, heart and serious psychological harm, such as dysfunctional behavior patterns, memory loss and possible death.

The most common drugs abused by the Nigerian youths include, tramadol, codeine, cocain, marijuana, rephynol, heroine, benelein and a host of others.

Aside these drugs and substances mentioned, research has shown that some people even abuse things like premium motor spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol and even industrial gums by constantly snuffing their odour in order to get high as it is called.

Drug like Tramadol popularly called “TM” slows down the body system, and has other negative effects such as constant intake of water, itching of the body, late reaction to activities, dizziness and  insomnia.

According to most youths who engage in this act, the intake of tramadol enhances sexual performance because it slows down the body system and thus causes late ejaculation or no ejaculation at all. In other words, the intake of tramadol makes the consumer to last for so long during sexual intercourse. Because of this, it is known as the most used drug among the Nigerian youths today.

The craze for hard drugs and substances has became a common trend that the female counterparts also want to engage in the menace. This is so because some of the female counter-parts are being lured into hard drugs by their male counterparts all in the name of love.

The use of these drugs and substances has adverse effects on the youths socially and psychologically.  These include abnormal behavioural patterns, and absence mindedness and can even result to madness.

Moreso, the hunger and taste for these drugs has led many youths to crimes such as stealing, pick-pocketing, cultism and other juvenile delinquencies.

Surprisingly, some of these drugs and substances are sold for as little as N20 – N50 per tablet, making them cheap and easy to purchase by youths. Regrettably, while this dangerous habit is fast consuming the future, the government and its agencies such as NAFDAC/NDLEA are doing little or nothing to combat the menace through public sensitization and enlightenment about the effects of these hard drugs and substances.

I believe that one of the ways to check drugs abuse is for government to enforce strict penalties and punishments on those who engage in the indiscriminate selling of these drugs and substances to the youths. It is wrong and against medical practice for any pharmacist to sell these drugs without proper questioning and enquires. As a matter of fact, it is expected of a qualified pharmacist to demand doctor/physician’s recommendation and prescription before selling such drugs/substances.

Parents and guardians also have their own share of the blame in this illicit habit. This is because most  parents fail in their responsibility to take adequate  care of their children. For instance, child neglect is common nowadays in many home, making many youths to indulge in some untoward attitudes.

Research has shown that, most youths engage in this self destructive act due to idleness, loneliness and bad peer groups. So, government should look for ways to engage the minds of the youths positively by creating recreational and skill acquisition centres, because as the saying goes, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.

Meanwhile, homes, schools and religious organisations must wake up to their duty of  inculcating good morals in the youth. If truly we believe the youths are the future of this country, all hands must be on deck to save that future. And the time to do that is now.

Egapi is a student of Benue State University, Makurdi.