DRUG AND ALCOHOLIC ABUSE AMONG THE YOUTHS

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ABSTRACT

This project is an analysis of Drug and Alcoholic abuse among the youths in Agege Local Government Area of Lagos State. The nature of continuous exposure to the street and its associated lifestyles makes most youths vulnerable to the use of psychoactive substances. At present, there is insufficient information regarding the pattern of psychoactive substance use among this group of children in Nigeria. The most commonly used psychoactive substances were alcohol, kola nut, tobacco and cannabis. None of the respondents reported the use of cocaine, opiates or hallucinogens. Length of stay on the street was found to be significantly predictive of current psychoactive substance use. The readily available and relatively cheap substances were in common use among street children with the length of stay on the street being a significant predictive factor. The affected community and the government should design methods of curtailing the problem of drug use and helping the children off the street.


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Alcohol use and abuse is a serious problem among young people. There are a number of unhealthy risks associated with it, including alcohol dependence, and alcohol related accidents and violence. There are many factors that contribute to the influence of drug abuse or drug addiction among the Nigerian youths, namely peer groups, parental background (broken home), and emotional stress among others. Today, majority of people m the country believe that drug abuse is a cankerworm and a disturbing problem in the lives of our youths. It has already been established that drug abuse is a factor to be reckoned with. While some people see it from the psychological point of view as part of Erikson's Psycho-social Development and Maslow's Need Gratification Theory (1954), others perceive drug abuse as a societal malaise.

That it is socially unacceptable in Nigeria is manifested in some recent anti-drug agencies formed in different parts of the country. For instance, apart from institutional and state anti-drug agencies, the Federal Government created the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). This shows the extent to which drug abuse has assumed national importance. It is therefore an evil to be properly watched, monitored and discouraged. Like "little drops of water that forms oceans", it probably started at home, school, or societal levels only to become a phenomenon of uncontrollable magnitude. The research work reported in this paper arose because this phenomenon from all Indications is worth probing into especially from the view point of controlling this menace in our society.

Young people who persistently abuse substances often experience an array of problem, including, academic difficulties, health-related problems (including mental health), poor peer relationships and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Additionally, there are consequences for family members, the community, and the entire society. In fact, the most likely cause of death for a 16 year old is alcohol related. For that reason, it is important to clearly understand the extent of youth involvement in underage drinking.

The impact of drug and alcohol abuse among Nigerian youth has been a stigma of a morally bankrupt, decadent and wasted generation that must be revitalized and collectively salvaged together in order to prevent the total degeneration and loss of our societal values and ideals. What is the brain behind our rotten society via the Nigerian youth? The answer is not fetched; it's simply drug and substance abuse.

We cannot all sit on the fence and criminally pretend on the menace of drug abuse that has eaten very deep into the fabrics of our society. The idea of smoking cigarette in the past is something very rare, unlike today that hard drugs and marijuana is openly smoked and distributed freely in the open with the very law enforcement agents keeping a blank eye. What do we mean by the term "drug abuse"? Drug abuse may be defined as the "arbitrary" overdependence or abuse of one particular drug with or without a prior medical diagnosis from qualified health practitioners. Majority of the Nigerian youths ignorantly depend on one form of drug or the other for their various daily activities - social, educational, political, moral, etc.

Dangerous drugs like cocaine, Indian hemp (marijuana), morphine, heroine, tobacco, ephedrine etc. Some of these dangerous drugs are both represents and stimulants, making the users either to feel high (on top of the world!) or low (below the sea level!) since there is a common adage which says "Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are”.

The sociological implications of drug abuse among the Nigerian youth have been a major threat to the peaceful co-existence of all and sundry in our contemporary society, thereby destroying the socio-political dignity, personality and integrity of dependence on life. The various consequences of the drug abuse or drug addiction are so devastating and very shameful to the extent that both the national and international organizations all over the world are also worried about the spread of this scourge among the Nigerian youths.

They are as follows: social violence among youths, armed robbery, mental disorders, 419 syndrome, social miscreants (Area boys and girls), lawlessness among youth, lack of respect for elders, rape, and many more of the social evils. Who is to hold to ransom and blame seriously for the menace of drug abuse among the Nigerian youth? The family through non-internalization of social norms, the society or peer groups of our youths. Many narcotics have been banned among our youths for their indiscriminate use by the international organizations like FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization), WHO (World Health Organization) and our various local organizations. There is a proverb in Latin which says "mens sana in corpore sano" - meaning – “a sound mind in a sound body." Hence, the ever usage of drugs and alcohol will never let one be in this state of sound mind in a sound body.

The various consequences of the drug abuse or drug addiction are so devastating and very shameful to the extent that both the national and international organizations all over the world are also worried about the spread of this scourge among the Nigerian youths. This deviant behavior happen the breeding ground for other social vices as follows: social violence among youths, armed robbery, mental disorders, 419 syndrome, social miscreants (Area boys and girls), lawlessness among youth, lack of respect for elders, rape, and many more of the social evils. Who is to hold to ransom and blame seriously for the menace of drug abuse among the Nigerian youth? Parental background via the society or peer groups of our youths?

In the higher institutions of learning, binge drinking has become another social norm. Binge drinking is the habit of having five or more drinks in a row, which could have serious health risks. Although, binge drinking levels are lower than they were in the 1980s, there is still a significant minority of youth who are engaging in this risky behavior. Binge drinking levels increase throughout adolescence and peak at ages 18-22. More than three-fourths of youth age 12-17 are not regular drinkers. It is very encouraging that despite some sensational headlines d tragic incidents related to alcohol use and abuse, data from the past two decades show a continuing trend of decreasing youth alcohol use. One major area of concern remains; however, the increasing percentage of teens who binge drink.

1.2      STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

It is no longer new in our society that young people has taken after deviant behaviors to express themselves in our society. Deviance is not a property inherent in certain forms of behavior (Erikson, 1962; Becker, 963; Lemert, 1972); it is a property conferred upon particular behaviors by social definitions. In the course of our daily lives, people use normative schemes available to them and make judgments regarding the desirability or undesirability of this or that behavior. They then translate their judgments into favourable or unfavourable consequences of those who engage in the behavior. In this sense, deviance is what people say it is. From the foregoing, it is evident that the larger society frowns at alcohol and drug abuse by the youths.

In this research, attention will be focused on some important problems relating to the causes and challenges as it affects the youths who abuse the usage of drugs and alcohol in Agege Local Government Area. The problems among others include:

·  The cultural and religious dimension of drugs and alcohol abuse by youths in Agege Local Government in Lagos State.

·  The socio-economic constraints.

·  Efforts towards the rehabilitation of drug addicts and their eventual reintegration into the society.

1.3    RESEARCH QUESTIONS

In the course of knowing the problems that youths face when dealing with the problem of alcoholic and drug abuse, the study intends to provide answers to these questions;

1.  Does media awareness enhance the need for proper control of drugs in our society?

2.  In what ways has both cultural and religious barriers inhibited access to media awareness in controlling youth's behavior, promotion of responsive drinking?

3.  Has parental background had a major role to play in correcting the "plague" of drug abuse among the Nigerian youths?

4.  To know the extent of implementation of health policy, the problems and argument in favor of media awareness to the people living in Agege Local Government Area.

1.4    OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The purpose of the study is to access the socio-economic causes and challenges of drug and alcoholic abuse among the youths in Agege Local Government area of Lagos State. The general purpose is to examine the socio-economic causes and challenges of this phenomenon. The specific objectives are:

1.  To determine the causes of deviant behavior as exhibited by the youths.

2.  To investigate the causes of cultural and religious barriers to youths deviant behavior in the society.

3.  Assessment of government attitude towards availability, distribution and access of controlled drugs by the youths.

4.  To advance solutions to the problems of drugs and alcoholic abuse among the youths.

5.  To contribute new facts and knowledge to academic field.

6.  The consequences of the activities to the general public.

Intervention methods to eradicate and clean up the problem of drug abuse and youth drinking.

1.5      SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Numerous studies have been carried out on the abuse of drugs and youth drinking, binge drinking, substance abuse like marijuana, cigarettes smoking, etc. but few took the issue of drugs and alcoholic abuse by the youths into consideration as a major social problem directly involving and affecting the lives and development of the youths in general, with visible negative effects on the society as well. The few that dwelled on this topic could be found wanting in some aspects especially as it affects youth development.

Hence, the significance of the research is first to understand the reasons for the persistence use of drugs and alcoholic abuse among the youths, their motivations, and to formulate better ways to deal with this social problem and re-integrate them back into civil society. Thus, the study will he of theoretical relevance to the res archers, scholars, and academics that would want to carry out research or further research on this topic or similar topics in future. This study will be available for criticisms and analysis and may also serve as a platform for further postulations or as a source of reference materials.

Practically, this study will serve as a tooI to assist both Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), Policy makers etc, in effecting positive changes in issues concerning the youths. Being a topical issue, Agege in Lagos State will be examined closely for the purpose of this study and references will also be made to certain peculiar situations in some other cities in Nigeria. The study will provide useful information to the authorities on the best approach to curb this social menace. Lastly, through this study, suggestion will be made which will add to the wealth of experience existing in the academic field.

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