By CHIOMA OBINNA
Teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 29 years are the highest abusers of marijuana, codeine, alcohol and other most commonly abused drugs and substances in Nigeria, according to latest poll results released by NOI Polls Limited.
Overall, 91 percent agreed that there is a high level of drugs and substance abuse in Nigeria. The finding supports UN data that Nigeria has the highest level of abuse of cannabis (marijuana) in Africa.
On the chart identified by 22 percent of the respondents is codeine (cough syrup followed by alcohol (20 percent), then tobacco with nine percent, prescription drugs nine percent and hard drugs six percent.
Reasons adduced for the trend as identified by respondents in the poll conducted between July 1st and 4th, 2013 included poverty and unemployment, peer pressure, societal influence and bad friends.
The findings come on the heels of the 2011 Report of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which rated Nigeria top on the chart in drug/substance abuse in Africa and largest abuser of cannabis.
World Health Organisation, WHO, describes drugs and substance abuse as “the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs”.
Worldwide, there has been an increase in drugs and substance abuse especially amongst young adults, with no exclusion to Nigeria. The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, reported that within the period of 1999 to 2007 alone, about 2,267,830.53 kilograms of various illegal drugs and substances were seized all over Nigeria.
Substance abuse has also been linked, to a certain level, to early school dropout and a number of HIV/AIDS cases due to the sharing of needles in the course of administrating drugs.
Based on this background, NOI Polls conducted its latest poll to explore awareness of Nigerians regarding the issue.
Respondents were asked five specific questions including what can be done to curb the rising incidence of drugs and substance abuse in the country, possible reasons why people abuse drugs and substances and on what can be done to curb the rising incidence of drugs and substance abuse in Nigeria.
A majority of 39 percent recommends creation of more awareness/orientation in public, homes and schools on the effects of drugs and substance to a great extent would reduce the rise in drugs and substance abuse especially amongst teenagers and young adults.
Another group suggested youth empowerment; creation of jobs and improved standard of living as paramount in curbing the situation. Furthermore, 14 percent of the respondents are of the opinion that more law enforcement and penalties will reduce the problem to its minimum; eight percent said good governance, effective control checks, improved and approved medication services would go a long way in curbing the trend.
Part of the recommendation is a call for more focus on enforcement of laws and penalties, as well as careful consideration to be given to creation of more awareness on the effects of drugs and substance abuse. This is to be greatly supported by youth empowerment and more job creation in order to generally improve standard of living especially within the age group identified. In addition there should be more focus on the enforcement of laws and penalties which should be enforced in order to keep a check and balance on the drugs problem, which has greatly affected the Nigerian society.
The results from the poll revealed that almost 9 in 10 Nigerians (90%) believe the highest abusers of drugs and substance are teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 29 years old.It also found that the most abused substance in Nigeria is marijuana.
NOI Polls Limited is Nigeria’s leading opinion polling and research organisation, which works in technical partnership with the Gallup Organisation, USA, to conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria.