When drug abuse is mentioned, you may immediately picture an unkempt person roaming the streets. Nigerian pop culture also perpetuates this image in movies and other forms of entertainment.
A survey by the National Bureau of Statistics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that 15 out of every 100 people in Nigeria abuse drugs. This means that at a typical Nigerian wedding reception you may have attended before COVID-19, there were probably at least 15 drug abusers. Worse still, the majority are between 25 – 39 years, a significant demographic because the Nigerian population is so young in general.
Drug abuse happens every day – behind closed office doors, in ghettos and pristine upscale houses, and in schools across the country. A BBC Eye documentary on the abuse of cough syrups containing codeine revealed ubiquitous drug abuse. This year, the United Nations is focusing on improving knowledge on the world’s drug problem with the theme, ‘Better Knowledge For Better Care’ for the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on 26 June, 2020. This approach is welcome because understanding the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of drug abuse remains crucial to ending it.
Many people who abuse drugs start to do so because of some of the reasons below:
- Peer Pressure
It may start as ‘harmlessly’ as a drug your colleagues take to help keep away the stress of work and enable them work longer hours. Before long, you may find yourself taking this drug too in order to keep up. Soon, you may be unable to function properly without it.
- Prescription Medication
Some prescription drugs can be addictive and medical practitioners control their use by prescribing them only when necessary. Still, it is important for you to ask your doctor and pharmacists for information about any drug you are given. This includes the propensity for addiction also, so you can be watchful.
- Emotional Stress
A tragedy like the loss of a loved one, problems in your close relationships or at work can be debilitating. It is best to seek professional help from mental health practitioners, covered in many of our health plans. The abuse of psychoactive substances can be tempting as a means of escape but using them as a coping mechanism never ends well.
Curiosity they say killed the cat but unlike the proverbial cat, you do not have 9 lives. A lot of addictive substances are addictive because of the ‘high’ they offer. You might be tempted to experiment just to experience what the high feels like but this is one area in which curiosity is not encouraged, no matter how much in control you may think you are.
It is safer for you to go to the hospital or use Telemedicine whenever you feel ill. Healthcare workers have been trained to get the best out of different drugs while managing untoward side effects like addiction properly. You are certainly better off getting treatment and a prescription than going to get them on your own. This will help you avoid the trap of drug abuse.
These are some of the reasons why people abuse drugs, and some of the commonly abused drugs in Nigeria include opioids like tramadol, cough syrups, sedatives, cannabis, cocaine, and heroin. Sometimes these drugs are mixed to form more potent and dangerous cocktails as well.
Remember to always find safe and proper channels to deal with any challenges you have, and to visit the hospital whenever you feel ill.
Stay safe and live more life.
By Dr.Okonkwor Oyor C.