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Nigerian children and the challenge of substance abuse



In the study titled, Pattern of Substance Abuse among Senior Secondary School Students in a Southwestern Nigerian City, written by Oladele A Atoyebi, (Corresponding Author) of Department of Community Medicine, Federal Medical Center, Ido-Ekiti, Nigeria, and Olufunmilayo E Atoyebi of the Department of Ophthalmology, of the Federal Medical Center, Ido-Ekiti, Nigeria, they said, more young people are getting involved in substance abuse in Nigeria. 
The study which sought to determine the pattern of substance abuse among senior secondary school students in Oshogbo, Osun state of SW Nigeria, quoting the Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), stated that drug abuse is a major problem in Nigerian schools.
Oshogbo is the capital city of Osun State in Southwest Nigeria. It is located about 95 kilometers North-East of Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State. The city has 2 Local Government Areas (LGA); Oshogbo LGA and Olorunda LGA. Oshogbo is an urban centre with majority of the inhabitants belonging to the Yoruba Ethnic group. It concluded that in Nigeria, there has been an upsurge in the use of psychoactive substances. This upsurge has been characterized by an increase in the mental disorders, criminal acts and cult activities in both the higher institutions of learning, and also in secondary schools. 
The high rate of road traffic accidents, increased violence and criminal behaviour are also partly attributed to alcohol and drug abuse. The resultant loss to the nation on account of these problems afflicting her youth cannot be quantified in material terms.  The study said that there is a need to develop a viable substance abuse preventive programme and a comprehensive data base on substance abuse among adolescents. Programs should be instituted to introduce the subject of substance abuse into the school curriculum and the creation of youth social clubs should be encouraged to fight against substance abuse.
Another study said that drug abuse is a problem that is causing serious concern to both individuals and government all over the world. Titled, “drug abuse among Nigerian Adolescents: strategies for counseling”, it was written by Dorcas Oluremi FAREO, Ph.D. of the Department of Educational Foundations and Counselling, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.  She said the problem is prevalent among adolescents who in most cases are ignorant about the dangers inherent in drug abuse. Many of them engaged in drug abuse out of frustration, poverty, lack of parental supervision, peer influence and pleasure2. 
She concluded that the use and abuse of drugs by adolescents have become one of the most disturbing health related phenomena in Nigeria and other parts of the world. Several school going adolescents experience mental health programme, either temporarily or for a long period of time. Some become insane, maladjusted to school situations and eventually drop out of school. However, with effective counselling programme, the problems can be tackled she added.
There are also studies based on Edo state like one titled,  “Illicit drugs use and dependency among teenagers and young adults in Oredo LGA, Benin City, Nigeria”, by Elizabeth I. Omage of the Department of Adult and Non-Formal Education, University of Benin, Benin City and Mannie I. Omage of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Benson Idahosa University, Benin City. 
The study’s objective was to examine the problem of illicit Drugs Use and Dependency among Teenagers in Oredo Local Government Area, Benin City.  Specifically, it aimed at; 
Ø finding out the perception illicit and the extent of dependency on illicit drugs 
Ø ascertaining the reasons why teenagers and young adults use drugs illicitly 
Ø finding out the kind of illicit drugs commonly used by this group 
Ø finding out the sources of the supply of illicit drugs and 
Ø Ascertaining the common side effect of these drugs on the users.
In the study, both primary and secondary data were used.  The primary data used in this study were obtained from a cross-section of youths living within Oredo L.G.A.  A hundred copies of questionnaire were administered on a hundred (100) youths of 13-19 and 20-40 years of age.  They were culled from various communities within Oredo with a stratified random sampling procedure. 
The studied area was divided into strata comprising quarters or communities. Based on the rule of thumb Ogbe quarters, Iyaro quarters, Oliha quarters, Uzebu quarters and New-Benin quarters were selected. The study found that the use of illicit drugs among young adults and teens in Oredo L.G.A is attributable to many factors such as:  Lack of proper parental care, attention and love, Proper monitoring of the teen child and young adult, Peer pressure which in many cases influences or the necessity to act what you are not originally, to feel high among other reasons like frustration level, social – economic situation.
Another study titled “Impact of Substance Abuse on Academic Performance among Adolescent Students of Colleges of Education in Kwara State, Nigeria”, was by Akanbi, M.I. and others. It found that substance abuse in adolescence constitutes one of the most deadly menaces faced by Nigerians today. It has been identified as a social vice that must be eradicated. 
Akanbi said although the government has currently championed the campaign against drug abuse, drug abusers exhibit some aberrant behaviour due to their reliance on drugs. They can be helped by Counselor to overcome their problem. He said counselors are also required to provide drug abuse education to the adolescent in our secondary school and tertiary institutions. Drug abuse counseling is therefore recommended as an integral part of school curriculum; a method of management which focuses on specific problems arising from the abuse of drug.
He also suggested the following recommendations: 
1. Campaigns against substance use should be incorporated in health education curricula of colleges of education with special focus on the adverse consequences of the substances used.
 2. Establishment of Counseling Centres for Drug Control: Counseling centres should be established in every community by the government or private individuals.
On their parts, Messrs. Oladele A Atoyebi et al concluded there is a need to develop a viable substance abuse preventive programme and a comprehensive data base on substance abuse among adolescents. Programs should be instituted to introduce the subject of substance abuse into the school curriculum and the creation of youth social clubs should be encouraged to fight against substance abuse.
Dorcas Oluremi FAREO said drug awareness units should be set up in all states by the federal, state and local government not to try people who use drugs as criminals, but to help solve their sociopsychological problem. This paper discusses the concept of drug abuse, types, theories of causes, signs and symptoms, effects, and strategies for counselling. For Elizabeth I. Omage et al  NGO’s can indeed extend services to various categories of youths especially teens and young adults in their schools, campuses, trade centres etc, through planned programs involving seminars, educative films, medical exposé and the like, focusing on the meaning of, problems associated with and ameliorative steps for illicit and indiscriminate use of drugs.
In conclusion Akanbi, M.I. and the others agree that the role of NGOs in harnessing all other efforts in programmes directed toward drug education and referrals for rehabilitation cannot be overemphasized. 
On the foreign scene, David Friedman in his article, “Drugs, Violence and Economics”, said, “One point on which almost everyone interested in drug prohibition agrees is the existence of a connection between drugs and violent crime. The disagreement is on the form of the connection and the sign of the correlation. Supporters of drug prohibition typically argue that drug use leads to violent crime and should be illegal in part for that reason”.
Broadly speaking, he said the link between drugs and violent crime could occur in three ways: violent crime by consumers of drugs, violent crime associated with the production and distribution of drugs, or violent crime directly associated with the attempt to enforce drug prohibition. “For the case of crime by drug consumers, two mechanisms are commonly asserted, with opposite implications. One is drugs as in input to violent crime–people committing crimes under the influence of drugs that they otherwise would not commit. This claim is made both for drugs for which it is pharmacologically implausible, such as heroin and marijuana, and for ones for which it is plausible, such as alcohol. If it is correct, the obvious implication is that drug prohibition, by reducing consumption of drugs, can be expected to reduce violent crime”.
Furthermore he said, the other claim is that drug users commit crimes in order to get the money to pay for drugs. He said, one point on which almost everyone interested in drug prohibition agrees is the existence of a connection between drugs and violent crime. The disagreement is on the form of the connection and the sign of the correlation. Supporters of drug prohibition typically argue that drug use leads to violent crime and should be illegal in part for that reason.
From what we have said so far it is obvious that Nigerian parents have a lot of work to do, they are not aware and so have not started at all.  (Osehobo is founder, substance abuse prevention awareness and action research centre, Benin city)

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