Youth drug abuse: Lagos Assembly tasks parents on vigilance

By Adeparua Damilola

THE rate at which drug abuse is on rampage in the society these days is quite alarming and it is seen in every nook and corner of every society. Though it is not limited to the youths alone, it is more rampant among the youths.

It is promoted by the movie and music industries due to the fact that hardly can one watch a movie without finding scenes where drugs are being  abused. Musicians also abuse drugs  to conquer stage fright and suppress stress. These days, some youths are found in broad day light abusing drugs on the streets while many of them have become mentally unstable because of the act.

Latest global estimates indicate that about 5.5 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the total number of persons who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders. In Nigeria, with 14.4 per cent the drug use prevalence is significantly higher than the global average.

According to a source, a prevalence of 20–40 per cent and 20.9 per cent of drug abuse was reported among students and youths, respectively. Commonly abused drugs include cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, heroin, diazepam, codeine, cough syrup and tramadol.

Sources where abusers obtained drugs, were pharmacies/patent medicine shops, open drug markets, drug hawkers, fellow drug abusers, friend, and drug pushers. Drug abuse is common among undergraduates and secondary school students, youths, commercial bus drivers, farmers, and sex workers.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, describes substance abuse as the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. One of the key impacts of illicit drug use on society is the negative health consequences experienced by its members.

Drug use also puts a heavy financial burden on individuals, families and society. Cannabis remains the most widely used illicit substance in the African Region, with the highest prevalence and increase in use being reported in West and Central Africa with rates between 5.2 per cent and 13.5 per cent.

One of the ways by which drugs are being abused is the use of injection. Some people, especially the youths inject drugs into their system and do not bother about the fact that it carries a high risk of infection with blood borne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, while the sharing of contaminated needles and syringes is an important mode of transmission for those viruses.

Reports show that globally, over 11 million people are estimated to inject drugs, half of whom are living with Hepatitis C, while Opioids continue to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drug use.

From the World Health Organisation’s estimate, the harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year. Alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol use disorder, AUD, reportedly kills over three million people each year, accounting for up to six per cent of global deaths.

Even though there are many people who take alcohol on a daily basis, alcohol is usually abused at parties or any gathering, which involves youths. Furthermore, another source posits that on average every person in the world aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year.

Less than half the population (38.3 per cent) actually drinks alcohol, this means that those who do drink consume on average 17 litres of pure alcohol annually. Drug abuse, including alcohol may lead to health problems, social problems, morbidity, injuries, unprotected sex, violence, deaths, motor  vehicle accidents, homicides, suicides, physical dependence or psychological addiction.

One of the causes of drug abuse is peer group, with many people who end up in drug rehab citing direct negative peer pressure as one of the initial causes that started their addictive behaviour pattern. Direct negative pressure can often involve a group of friends or peers directly asking someone to do something. This pressure is very toxic and difficult to resist.

Another cause of drug abuse among the youths is lack of attention. Some parents throw caution to the wind in matters relating to their children by denying them the needed attention.

Children need proper attention because there are many things going on around them that can make them go astray but if there is a strong bond between them and their parents or guardians, majority of the heinous acts and drug abuse by the youths will be minimised.

Furthermore, exposure to programmes promoting drug abuse on TV and internet can also lead to drug abuse.  These days, hardly can one watch a movie that does not promote drug abuse. What about the music of nowadays?

Even the musicians themselves abuse drugs in order to manage stress and it is what they display in their music videos. They also sing songs that revolve round drug abuse and this exactly is why people are no longer afraid of abusing drugs in public places.

Since injection of drug has to do with piercing the body with sharp needle or syringe, people who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease, such as HIV, either through unsafe sex while under the influence of drugs or by sharing needles. 

Drug abuse can lead to a range of both short-term and long-term mental and physical health problems depending on the kind of drugs abused; there are many youths out there who are mentally unstable due to drug abuse while there are many whose organs such as liver or kidney have been badly damaged due to drug abuse.

It has been discovered that people who are addicted to drugs are more likely to drive or do other dangerous activities while statistics shows that 58.1 per cent of people killed in alcohol-related car crashes are between the ages of 20 and 34 years.

Findings show that one of the effects of drug abuse is depression and mood problem, People who are addicted to drugs die by suicide more often than people who are not addicted.

As posited by a source, there is a high rate of suicide in alcoholics and other drug abusers. The reasons believed to cause the increased risk of suicide include the long-term abuse of alcohol and other drugs causing physiological distortion of brain chemistry as well as the social isolation.

Another factor is the acute intoxicating effects of the drugs which may make suicide more likely to occur. Suicide is also very common in adolescent alcohol abusers, with one in four suicides in adolescents being related to alcohol abuse.

Statistics shows that in the US, approximately 30 per cent of suicides are related to alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is also associated with increased risks of committing criminal offences including child abuse, domestic violence, rapes, burglaries and  assaults.

To curb the increase of drug abuse in the society, it is advisable that youths and children be enlightened about the risk involved in drug use and misuse. Parents are encouraged to listen attentively to their children whenever they talk about peer pressure in order to know the necessary steps to be taken and support their efforts to resist it.

Any parent who wants to stop his/her child from abusing drug must first be a good example because it has been realised that children of parents who misuse drugs are at greater risk of drug addiction.

In addition, children who lack parental care and attention mostly find succour in whatever can fill the vacuum and such may end up being drug abusers. Parents are urged to pay the needed attention to their children because when there is a strong bond between them, it can reduce the child’s risk of abusing drugs.

In conclusion, those who are suffering from the effect of drug abuse should seek proper care from relevant places before it gets out of hands, because United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, 2019 report shows that 35million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorder while one in seven people receive treatment. People are urged to support and show love to those who are undergoing medical care to overcome drug addiction and not make them feel isolated.

Damilola, a social commentator, wrote via, [email protected]

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