Nigeria is a society in which the use of mind-altering substances is fast becoming a central part of the culture. On television, you are certain to see advertisement with successful, attractive people drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, swallowing malaria or pain-relieving tablets. These legal drugs represent only a small fraction of the drugs that Nigerians ingest each day.

A drug is a chemical that changes a person’s mood or behavior when it is smoked, injected, inhaled, drunk or swallowed in pill form. Drug abuse is the overuse and misuse of legal and illegal drugs by individuals without prescription by medical personnels to cause a change in their physiological and psychological state which lead to legal and interpersonal problems.


Types of Drugs

1) Alcohol: Beer, wine, brandy, whisky, ogogoro (unrefined spirit), palmwine etc.

2) Stimulants: These are substances that temporarily quicken some vital process in the nervous system. Examples are caffeine, amphetamines, cocaine, etc.

* Cocaine: A narcotic (alkaloid) extracted from coca leaves which causes increase in energy. It is very addictive.

* Amphetamines:- causes boldness and over confidence, talkativeness and energy.

* Cannabis – (marijuana, grass, pot, weed or igbo). To enhance confidence, sexuality and appetite – increased awareness of internal and external stimuli.

* Sedative Anxiolyties – They include substances like Diazepam (valium) used to induce sleep.

* Anabolic steroids – to enhance strength and musculature, particularly among athletes.

* Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) used by dentists to help patient relax in preparation for a dental.


Symptoms of Drug Abuse

  1. Violent Behavioural Tendencies: A drug addict is prone to violent behaviour because of the intoxication of the constant abuse of drug substances. They usually misbehave in public and utter provocative statements. They often behave abnormally and foment trouble wherever they are. They are known for illicit behaviour and attitudes. Most often, they are apprehended by the law enforcement agents and charged for raping, disturbing public peace and harmony, election-rigging and box snatching.
  2. Depression: Excessive use of alcoholic drinks and drug substances always result to the users feeling unhappy that they cannot live a normal life. Depression means a feeling of sadness that makes one think that there is no hope for the future. It connotes a medical condition that makes one so unhappy and anxious that one cannot live a normal life.
  3. Allergy: This is a medical condition in which a drug addict constantly fall sick or a situation in which the skin of the drug addict becomes red and painful due to weakness of body hormones and immune system. Drug addicts are usually exposed to injuries and medical problems.
  4. Alcohol: It leads to impaired functioning, judgment, attention, slurred speech, abnormal eye movements, slow reflexes, unsteady walking, and unbalanced moods.
  5. Amphetamines ingestion leads to accelerated bodily functioning; perspiration or chills.
  6. Great consumption of caffeinated beverages can cause bodily sensations such as nervousness, twitching insomnia (sleeplessness), and agitation.


Behaviours Exhibited by Drug Addicts

  1. They neglect obligations at work, and their commitments at home and family start to erode.
  2. They take risks that are personally dangerous and put others in jeopardy, such as driving or operating machinery while intoxicated.
  3. They violate the law by engaging in disorderly conduct or assaultive behaviour.
  4. Interpersonal problems:They always have strained relationship with self and others, peers, friends, family.
  5. Continuous use of drugs even when it is clear that such behaviour entails significant risks or creates problems in living.


Ways of Preventing Drug Abuse

  1. Legal Sanctions: The inclusion of drug abuse in the penal codes in Nigeria with penalties such as: as jail terms and forfeiture of properties have served as deterrent to some citizens.
  2. Teaching drug usage and misuse as part of the school curriculum i.e normative education.
  3. Psychological reinforcement of behaviours of drug abuse when appropriate.
  4. Most drug abuse begins with users experimenting it at a very young age. Teens are naturally curious, therefore, there is a need to change the perceived norms of our youths, as well as of our adult population so that we do not accept substance abuse as merely a rite of passage.
  5. Community Action and Involvement: School systems, churches, mosques, recreation facilities and all citizens should work together to institute drug free norms within our culture and their particular communities. A good place to begin is by not abusing drugs ourselves.
  6. Involvement in school and extracurricular activities such as sports may keep people out of drug abuse.
  7. Counseling the drug abusers of its consequences may prevent them from future drug abuse.


Government Agencies that are Working to Prevent Drug Abuse

NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency): Decree number 48 of January 1990 established a National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to eliminate the growing, processing, manufacturing, selling, exporting and trafficking of hard drugs, and the decree prescribed stiffer penalties for convicted offenders. The NDLEA maintains a presence at international airports making regular seizures of heroin from individual couriers and conduct raids at seaports and border checkpoints. Efforts to eradicate cannabis cultivation focused on the destruction of isolated plantings.

NAFDAC (National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control): National Agency for Food and drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was established by Decree No 15 of 1993 as amended as a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Health with the mandate to regulate and control quality standards for foods, drugs, medical devices, manufactured locally and distributed in Nigeria.


Promulgated Laws Against Drug Abuse

The prohibition of drugs through laws or legislation is a common means of attempting to prevent drug use and abuse. While most drugs are legal to posses, many countries regulate the manufacture, distribution, marketing and sale of some drugs. For instance, through a prescription system, a certified physician or doctor must write out prescription for certain drugs before it could be sold to anyone.

Only certain drugs are banned with a “blanket prohibition” against all use. The most widely banned substances include psychoactive drugs; although blanket prohibition also extends to some steroids and other drugs. Many countries do not criminalize the possession of a limited quantity or certain drugs for personal use, while still prohibiting their sale or manufacture, or possession in large quantities.

Some laws set a specific volume of a particular drug, above which is considered to be evidence of trafficking or sale of the substance.


Activities of Drug Enforcement Agencies

  1. Arrest of drug couriers and barons.
  2. Prosecution of drug couriers and sponsors according to the laws of the country.
  3. Burning of fake or expired drugs or cannabis farm.
  4. Cooperation with other security operatives like the State Security Service (SSS), police, immigration and custom to keep out drug courier from importing or exporting hard drugs through our borders.
  5. Counseling of the arrested drug traffickers.

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