Drug exposure and consumption when unregulated, leads to drug abuse and addiction. Drug abuse impact deep pains in the hearts and lives of the youths, their family, and their immediate society as well as the nation at large. This write up is meant to sensitize youths and their parents, who will be fortunate enough to read this and also enlist them as advocates in the campaign against Drug Abuse.
What are drugs? Who are young people?
Young people can be referred to as people not matured or experienced enough especially due to their low age group-adolescent, teenager and generally the Youths. In United Nations operational definition, Young people are those people in between 15-29 years age bracket.
Drug Abuse may be defined as the arbitrary use of one particular drug with or without diagnosis or prescription from qualified health or medical practitioners. A Drug is any substance which when taken, is capable of altering the mind and behaviour of the users.
FACTORS THAT PREDISPOSE YOUTH TO DRUG ABUSE
The feature of adolescent age is characterize by experimentation, trying new things, hatred for the old order and desire to “be free”. Experimentation with the drug is common at this stage of life.
The following factors are likely to influence whether or not a youth will experiment with drugs.
Children from broken homes or homes where parents engage into fisticuffs are more likely to take to drugs than those children from settled homes.
Youths that associate with smokers or drug abusers are likely, sooner or later join them.
Youth that idolize people who abuse drugs will likely develop that same habit. Those who idolize certain musician tend to do what they practice. Also when a young boy or girl is closely associated with an older person in higher school or university, who abuse drugs, the child will be swayed in similar direction.
DISTANT FROM PARENTAL OR ADULT MONITORING
Youth who are always receiving visitors in their own separate apartment and are not being monitored by their parents or adults with parental authority are more prone to take to drugs than those who are under constant watch of their parents or wards.
In some cases, youths take to drugs because it is the in-thing in their school. It is vital for parents to investigate the pedigree of their type of school they intend to take their children to, be it secondary or tertiary.
EXPOSURE TO SOURCE OF SUPPLY OR POINT OF CONSUMPTION OF DRUGS
In addition to other factors, Youth that live in locations where drug are readily available like Motor Parks , hotels, pepper soup joints and “coded locations” and are in regular contact with those who visit these places are also susceptible to drug abuse. Imagine a Youth that grow up in Majidun area of Ikorodu or Mushin Oloosa area of Lagos.
Despite the effort of many concerned bodies to curb the menace, many firms and individuals still present these drugs as though they are harmless status symbols Commonly Abused.
Many Nigerian youths ignorantly depend on one form of drug or the other for their various daily activities whether in schools or in the artisan workplaces. Drug exposure and drug abuse among youths should be a matter of concern to all parents. The following drugs have been found to be most commonly abused by Nigerian Youths.
- Methylated Spirit
- Alcohol in different forms; beer, aHarbal Roots Alcholic drings for pile and “manpower” e.g. Alomo Bitters t.c
- Super glue sniffing
- Diesel sniffing
- Cough Syrup mixed with Pepsi or soft drinks.
- Hard Drugs- Cocaine, Heroin, Cracks, Pills.
- Soft Priscription Drugs like Emzor 5, Tramadol and Valium 5 e.t.c.
Why Youth Take Drugs?
- To experiment out of curiosity
- To feel good
- To kill boredom
- When trapped by drug seller’s deceit for exploitation
- To fit in with a special collection, usually a rebel, group
- To get attention – “Now am doing my own worse to your face”.
- To satisfy increased craving for more “highs” when the body develop tolerance to lower drugs-from cigarette to marijuana to cocaine or cracks.
Symptoms of Drug Abuse in Youths
There is no smoke without fire. Wise parents should watch out for the following characteristics in the behavior of youths to suspect drug abuse;
- Sudden change in character or behavior. Extreme wildness or gentleness.
- Tendency to withdraw from others in the house and keep to oneself – usually in the room.
- Watch the type of friends they keep and the videos they watch if they are full of defiant characters.
- Rampant lying.
- Extreme boldness to deny accusation and use of threats when lies are discovered.
- Over use of perfumes to cover up smell in the mouth, room or toilet.
- Sleepiness and Dullness. After a high, a youth may sleep from Friday and wake up on Sunday non-stop.
- Missing cash and disposable items like phones in the house in mysterious ways.
- When he begins to borrow money from people promising to pay back within 2-3days with no cogent means of getting the fund.
- Loss of interest in impersonal appearance.
- Over sensitivity to people’s discussion. He accuses others of talking about him and threatening to deal with them
- Red shots on eyeballs and the use of dark coloured glasses or dark sun shades to cover up.
- Going out without informing anyone about his whereabouts and returning home with no cogent reasons or designations you can trace.
- Syringes and cotton wool with blood shots found in refuse bins around the house or nearby bush.
- Violence and corrosive encounters. Violently jamming a door or breaking a table with hands out of anger.
- Hatred for anything morally good. He attacks religions institutions and their leaders; his parental authority; and institutional procedures are looked down on.
- Extreme boasting of making it big soonest. Drug abusers are trapped in their world and are not happy with themselves. They secretly longing for help.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
The role of Parents and Guardians.
Drug abuse is preventable. Parents are advised to be close to their children and lovingly monitor them.
Get involved in the affairs of your youth without encroaching into their privacy or private space. Also pray for God’s guidance and protection from predating spirit of nowadays that are bent on destroying the youths using drugs, sex and crave for power. Prevention is better than cure. However, if your child or ward is already involved, never lose hope. Some Drug addicts have been left off the hook through counseling and spiritual intervention of gifted people of God. Also, seeking medical help from Neuro Psychiatric medical experts may help. Institutions like Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministries, CADAM, have been used of God to deliver and restore many wasted lives hooked on drugs to productivity and sanity.
TRAIN YOUR CHILD IN THE WAY HE SHOULD GO, AND WHEN HE IS OLD HE WOULD NOT DEPART FROM IT.
Above all, Prevention they Say is better and cheaper than Cures.
Akibu Oyeyemi, (B.Sc. Ibadan; M.Sc. Psychology Unilag).
MD/CEO, Indepth Watchers Security Services Lagos, Nigeria.