If drug abuse has ever reached its present proportions in Nigeria’s history, the phenomenon was either not recorded or it, somehow, managed to escape our attention.
Reports by new media and the general public indicate that drug use among Nigeria’s youth is worsening by the day.
While Lagosians struggle to understand why drug-addled zombies are walking down the city’s streets at night, Abuja is getting covered in a carpet of drug sachets and codeine packs.
At first look, it’s hard to see why intoxication has become such a priority. There have been few abrupt changes in the Nigerian youth experience since, say the 1990s.
But therein lies the answer, in the fact that the reasons why Nigerian youth are abusing drugs emerged as slow burners instead of instant challenges.
Here are some of them:
(1) Social Acceptance:
Sociologists will tell you that humans were made to live in groups and socialize. We begin to show these trait from a very young age when we are taught in group and gravitate towards forming cliques of friends.
When we reach adolescence however, the urge to fit into groups or tand out becomes stronger at a period where we begin to form our identities.
Sadly, many young people struggle to fit in off the strength of their person alone. To earn their place in the crowd, they often resort to the same vices as the in-crowd, usually involving drug use.
In other cases, young people also resort to drug use in a bid to deal with the consequences of not fitting in with the crowd.
Rebellion is common among young people and drug use is one of its most telling characteristics. Either way, the implications can be disabling in the long term.
(2) Depression and Mental Health:
I’ve written numerous times on the Nigerian attitude to mental health and how Depression is not a Nigerian disease.
The sad implication of this disposition is that there is little or no help for the millions of young Nigerians who walk the country with mental health problems, especially depression.
In a country where the youth have little to claim as their inheritance and a lack of employment and career options is a defining element of society, many young people are disillusioned with the state of things and the gloomy reality that when its all said and done, there may be nothing left for them.
Distraught and depressed, an entire generation is turning to the euphoria of drug use.
In the North, where young emn in the millions wake and sleep in a society that holds little promise for them, drug abuse has reachd epic proportions.
Around the country, young people are turning to drugs as a ource of escape. Experts warn that this is a very slippery slope and with each incidence of use, it often takes a higher dose than the lat time to reach the same level of intoxication.
(3) Access and Availability
Considering the severity of Nigeria’s drug problem, it is somewhat disturbing that drugs are so easy to get. Take prescription drugs for example; the term prescription refers to the fact that a doctor or medical practitioner often has to write a note stating the variety of the drug and the quantity needed and endoring the ame before the drug can be sold to an individual.
It is no surprise that in Nigeria, that term is very unfamiliar. Pharmacies dot streets across the country and they offer a wide array of drugs for the right price.
Our infamously porous borders have allowed such medication come in unencumbered, as is the case, internally, with marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other similar substances.
The result is that, anywhere you go across the country, drugs are available if you know your way around. It goes without saying that this increases the potential for abuse, it is easy to misuse something when you can find it everywhere.
(4) Economic Uncertainty:
Once upon a time, Nigeria was the place to be as a young man or woman with some form of education.
Multinationals got the pick of the litter and high-performing students were assured of good jobs in Lagos and other cities like Port Harcourt and Kano.
The 1970s and 1980s seem such a distant time now. Today, unemployment is at record levels. Young graduates struggle to get jobs.
Any sign of a vacancy or job opportunity is swarmed by applicants as evidenced by the fiasco experienced during the Nigerian Immigration Service’s recruitment exercise in 2016.
With such non-existent prospects and the state of the nation’s economy looking more dismal with each passing day, young Nigerians are turning to drugs to ecap a harsh reality.
(5) Experimentation & Pop culture Influence
Pop culture is so called because it is an amalgam of trends and elements in fashion, arts, movies, television and music that have achieved mass appeal and become popular. In today’s pop culture, drug use is hard to avoid.
Moreso in music, the world’s biggest pop stars randomly discuss their prolific drug use in their songs, along with music videos where marijuana smoke floats in the air and artistes talk about popping prescription pills to deal with the pain.
Recently, Nigerian rapper Olamide was criticised for endorsing drug use in his hit single “Science Student”. The rapper has since denied the claims. Whether his intentions for releasing the song were genuine or not, young Nigerians are imbibing these influences.
With lyrics about popping codeine and smoking a blunt blaring through their headphones, the allure of experimenting is all too strong for many. It’s hard to look back from there.
Even the uneducated could earn a living at some of these companies or at local firms where hardwork was readily rewarded with opportunity.
Source: The PulseNG