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Hard Drug Use among University Undergraduates in Nigeria

Factor Influencing Hard Drug Use among University Undergraduates in Nigeria -A Study of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka



1.1 Background of the Study

The use of drugs by young people around the world is a serious problem with the attendant consequences on their health and emotional well-being. In Nigeria the rate at which the young people take drugs is steadily on the increase. According to the World Health Organization WHO (1986) a drug is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism alters normal bodily functions, it is also regarded as a chemical you take that affects the way your body works. Furthermore, a drug is a substance that has a physiological and psychological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body (Wikipedia) examples of these drugs includes; cocaine, heroin, caffeine, amphetamine, alcohol, marijuana, e.t.c.

A lot of factors account for the increased use of drugs by undergraduates in Nigeria universities. Odungale (1982) noted that the use of drugs may be triggered off by emotional stress, in an effort to alleviate a number of social problems. The solace found in drugs often develops into an abuse or misuse of drugs which may well emanate from an individual’s inability to cope with or handle personal problems practically and realistically. One area of concern in Nigeria is the rate at which undergraduates in tertiary institutions are involved in using many types of drugs in an arbitrary fashion with negative consequences to their emotional, psychological and general well being.

According to Olu (1987) the pre-disposing factors encouraging drug use ranges from living in slum conditions, peer group influence, personal ego and easy access to drugs via drug dealers to juvenile delinquency and organized crime. Though the extent of drug use may well be growing among undergraduates in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. (Ogundale, 1987, Olabisi, 2000).

Sue and Sue (1996) noted that drugs such as alcohol, coffee, cocaine, marijuana (known locally as Indian hemp) e.t.c. are consumed in large quantity in our tertiary institutions. Such drugs have adverse effects on the physical, psychological and emotional well-being of the students. Of more important to this study, are the factors that encourage the use of these drugs by the undergraduates of Nigerian universities especially in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.

Factors like unhealthy family background, peer group influence, desire to remain awake at night, high social class (to be known as big guys in campus), pressure to succeed in academic work, poor mental health and easy accessibility of drugs, e.t.c. are factors that predispose a great number of students to the use of different types of drugs which includes cocaine, alcohol, heroin, marijuana (known locally as Indian hemp).

Ajika (1990) noted that students use drugs especially in the category of stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens. He observed that most of the students take some of these drugs on social grounds and the fun of it. He concluded that the most widely used drugs among youngsters are assumed to be psychoactive drugs which are classified as stimulants, depressants and psychedelics (Feldman, 1999).

Davidson and Neale (1986) viewed depressants as the downers which decrease alertness and diminish impacts of the drugs normally used as sedative or sleeping pills. Tranquilizers and agents for relief of pains in this category of drugs are narcotics such as opium and its derivative, morphine, heroin and codeine, the synthetic barbiturates, glue, paints valium and alcohol.

Nwankwo (2003) stated that stimulants are the uppers which act on the brain and the central nervous system to increase alertness and motor activity. They include; amphetamines that are synthetic, stimulants, tobacco, kola nut and cocaine, which is a natural stimulants extracted from the cocoa leaf. He sees psychedelics as the third category which possesses varying degree of depressants and stimulant action.

This study therefore set out investigates the various factors that drive undergraduates of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka into taking a wide range of drugs.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Drug consumption in our society has become an issue of serious concern and constitutes one of the most important risks taking behavior among young adults in tertiary institutions. Despite worldwide concern and education about drug use, many only have limited awareness of their adverse consequences. Curiosity, social pressures and peer group influence are reported to be primary factors for drug use by youngsters.

Numerous studies have been conducted to unravel the etiological complexities of drug use in an attempt to search for effective prevention programs. However, it is evident from studies done that a variety of factors account for frequent use of drugs by undergraduates in the universities. Some of these factors include; family and peer-group influence exposure to mass media content and low level of self esteem.

Nwankwo (2004) listed the factors that predispose university undergraduates to take drugs to includes; environmental experience outside the family, pressure from peer groups, hostel inmates, quest for academic excellence, inordinate ambition and desires for material things, fear and the need to be regarded as big guys in the campus.

Aside the obvious effects and problems of protracted drug intake on the addicts’ personality, Odungele (1982) noted that several incidental factors are involved particularly, the psychological and sociological implications of applying the roles of addiction in our society. In other words, some of these effect influences and permit drugs to be available to our youths which invariably allow them to become drug addicts in the society.

According to Abiodun (1994) factors that encourage the undergraduates in the campus to resort to the use of wide range of hard drugs that is harmful to their health includes; poor parental upbringing, poor family background school mates influence, availability of drugs in the campuses, wrong social values and orientation, among others.

This study therefore tries to unravel the various factors encouraging undergraduates in the tertiary institutions to take drugs, Nnamdi Azikiwe University being the focus of the study.

1.3 Research Questions

The following research questions have been formulated to guide the study;

  1. What is the situation in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka as it concerns the use of hard drugs by students?
  2. What categories of students in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka are more likely to be involved in hard drug use?
  3. What types of drugs are commonly used by undergraduates in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka?
  4. What are the causes of drug use among students in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka?
  5. What are the consequences of drug use by undergraduates of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka?
  6. In what ways can the use of drugs by undergraduates in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka be controlled?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The study has both general and specific objectives

The general objectives of the study are to investigate the factors that encourage drug use among undergraduates in Nigerian Universities in general and Nnamdi Azikiwe University in particular.

The specific objectives are as follows;

  1. To find out the situation in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka as it concerns drug use by undergraduates.
  2. To find out the categories of students that are more likely to get involved in drug use.
  3. To ascertain the various types of drugs used by undergraduates in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.
  4. To find out why undergraduates of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka indulge in the use of drugs.
  5. To ascertain the consequences of drug use by undergraduates of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka.
  6. To find out ways in which drug use by undergraduates of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka can be checked.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study is significance in two ways, theoretically and practically.

Theoretically, this study would be of immense benefit to the discipline of sociology by exposing to scholars, students and anybody seeking an understanding of drug use and its dangers among youngsters. It will also help to form the basis for further researches and will equally help to fill-in the gaps in the already existing literature on the subject under investigation.

Practically, the study will be relevant to the public by exposing them to the dangers inherent in drug use. It will also constitute an important guide to policy formulations by policy-makers, government and university management especially in terms of reducing the increase in drug use among students. It will also help in developing guidelines for policies that could help meet contemporary challenges on the problem of peer-group influence and use of drugs in the country.

1.6 Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined the way they are used in the study.

Cult group: refers to a secret group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre to the society.

Drug: is an illegal substance that people smoke, take or inject for the physical and mental effects it has on them.

Depressants: is a drug that depresses the function or activity of a specific part of the brain.

Marijuana: also known as cannabis is a drug made from the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant and used in cigarette form as a narcotic or hallucinogen.

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