Substance abuse, illicit drugs, youths and society

A man whose child was admitted into a psychiatric facility was downcast and lamented how he had been struggling to provide the best opportunities for the child. His psychopathic child was admitted after long periods of addiction to illicit drugs and the man has been trying all he can to salvage the situation. This father is not alone in this sort of situation as many parents today have the added challenge of saving their children or child from drug addiction and abuse that has taken an epidemics proportion.

Research findings showed that 60 per cent of substance abuse occurs in the North. Sadly, in all these, youths below 35 years are mostly affected. In their quest to get high they are hooked to marijuana, codeine, tramadol, amphetamine, heroine, glue, rohypnol and other psychotropic substances. As for illicit drugs, there is always one for anyone, depending on one’s financial and social standing. This is one of the major reasons this problem has become widespread. Youths from various backgrounds resort to the use of drugs for various reasons; for people living in Nigeria, especially the northern states, nothing new since they have witnessed the exponential rise and spread of this problem over time.

Youths of different financial, social and cultural backgrounds often congregate at various points known for drug dealings and consumptions and do their things very much unhindered. At one point, they virtually took over most recreation parks and gardens in Abuja. Some make public show of it as though it is status conferral.

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All over the world, illicit drugs are known to fuel crime. Troops fighting the insurgents in North East have been recovering large quantities of assorted psychotropic substances. Just like bandits, kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers are known to use them to be able to perpetuate the kind of beastly and heinous crimes that are fast becoming a daily occurrence. One kidnapper in Ondo state was reported to have gone into coma during an operation due to an overdose of tramadol and Police said that he died on the ninth day despite all efforts to save him.

The challenge of tackling this menace is enormous and a systematic and holistic approach is most suitable because there is no quick fix. The total ban and crack down on manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical preparation with codeine as an active ingredient, by the government, is a step in the right direction. However, this alone will not solve the problem the same way that smoking of marijuana have almost replaced cigarette among youths in spite of the fact that it has been an illicit drug that the law prescribes stiff penalties for its possession.

The political class and opinion leaders must show good example and leadership. The practice of exploiting the youth for anti- social behaviours bordering on violence and criminality, for selfish interest of highly placed individuals in our society, must be stopped. This sort of action has become a ‘mentoring’ ground for youths and those already caught in this sordid web. This is very unfortunate as those ‘elite’ that youths turn to for directions have now become a source of the youths’ ruination.

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Oliver Ejike Uja,


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