Nigeria’s Drug Epidemic || By Rahaman Onike

DRUG abuse over time among the Nigerian youths has been a major cause of national quandary due to its devastating effects on the populace. It has always put serious burden on the nation’s health institutions and on annual national health budget.

Where there is prevalence of drug abuse among the populace, the funds that may ordinarily be utilized for other developmental projects are likely to be expended on treatment and rehabilitation of the patients.

Several social disorders in the country nowadays which are national nightmares are associated with the menace of drug misuse and abuses among the Nigerian youths. It has now assumed the status of an epidemic in the country, unlike in the past when the phenomenon was hardly heard and not well spread as the case today.

People of different ages and both gender are often fond of taking illicit drugs and it is now a common occurrence across the nation’s socio -cultural boundaries. Infact, the trend now and the rates of people’s involvement is somehow disgusting and ridiculous particularly in some northern states.

According to reports, Kano State is the most notorious when it comes to prevalence of substance abuse by small children, women and even the aged people.

More specifically, pupils in the primary and secondary schools’ ages are more notoriously involved in the case of illicit drug abuses in the country nowadays. This partly explains the reasons why our adolescents in the secondary schools are visibly implicated in several reported heinous crimes such as cases of kidnapping, yahoo yahoo, ritual killings, armed robbery among other vices in the country.

What this portends is that drug using attitudes and behaviours are indeed major predisposing factors to several illicit crimes as currently prevalent in our society today.

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Glaringly, drug using attitudes of the primary and secondary school pupils cannot be treated with levity, for it has alot of damning effects on the school learning outcomes as a whole and due to the specific negative consequences on the academic achievements of the addicts and drug abusers.

Nigeria’s progression from minor to major drug abusing nation is not unconnected with the challenges of poor parenting, parental bereavement, child abandonment, parental separation among other family issues that could predispose a child to drug abuse.Stress induced by family challenges has made a lot of people become attracted to drugs and substance abuses.

Again, cocaine being expensive and not easily accessible made some of the abusers to now opt for cough syrup like codeine, tramadol,tyre gum, hypo in lacasera,tomtom in lacasera, rephnol among several others as potent alternatives. At times, some abusers do snuff defecation, alabukun, concentrated urine on the excuse that the nauseous substances do give inspiration and can help them to improve on their sexual, mental and physical performances.

Unarguably, the excessive intake of any of the stimulants often results into psychiatric illness. Despite this reality,abusers will not see anything wrong with the drugs .When you visit any of the psychiatric hospitals today,you will discover that some of the patients are victims of drugs or substance abuse.

The amazing scenerio is that drugs are never a panacea to life challenges no matter the active ingredients.Even with the sedative and anti- anxiety agents in some of the abusing drugs and substance,there is never a report of anyone that has overcome stress permanently due to the drug intake.

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Rather than to overcome stressful conditions,the report we receive daily is the exhibition and manifestation of highly destructive personal and social behaviours by the drug abusers such as persistent cases of suicidal behaviours,incaceration among other risky behaviours associated with substance abuse.

Of course, Nigeria’s rising profile in drug trafficking and drug abuse has refused to wane over the years despite the awareness programmes by the government and the press in addition to the advocacy by the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

From mere transit route for marijuana and other opiates, Nigeria has transformed to a country peopled by major hardened abusers and traffickers of hard drugs.

Recently, some Nigerians were killed in foreign countries for drug related offenses. Yet, the rate at which more people are getting involved is unabated and somehow worrisome.

With the report of a collaborative study recently released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in collaboration with the European Union, about 14.3 million Nigerians representing about 14.4 per cent of the country’s population between the ages of 15 and 64 were said to have abused drugs in the past one year.

This is worrisome because of the deleterious effects of drugs or substance abuse on both the abusers and the society at large.It seems we are not winning the war against drug abuse.

In my view, legal control and judicial measures seem not to be sufficient in combating the menace.I feel strongly that apart the effective application of legal instruments and enforcement procedures,greater attention needs to be paid to counselling.Of course, rehabilitative efforts alone cannot equally do the magic. So far drug abusers mirror the dysfucnality of our social life and the problem portrays the true image of our country, it is better the problem is seen as such that requires emergency declarations by the government and other stakeholders.

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The odious effect is not good for the image of the country in any way.


Besides, a lot of positive impacts could be made by making educational institutions to be more actively involved in the war against drug abuse through programmes of instruction in the school. It is envisioned that effective curriculum activities in the school can engender positive attitudinal change on the part of drug abusers.

Other agencies such as the mass media and health institutions should not be left out of concerted effort towards ensuring that proper value re-orientation is provided for the citizens of all ages with emphasis on evils of drug abuse.

Without recording success in the war against drug and substance abuse,our country cannot be crime free. This is because, the more people take hard drugs and abuses substance, the higher the tendency for an increase in the nation’s crime rates.


Rahaman Onike, Public Affairs Analyst writes from Oyo, Oyo State


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