The use of hard drugs by youths in Nigerian society has become an embarrassing occurrence to parents, schools, government authorities, and the society at large. The constant abuse of drugs among this group of youths can cause psycho-social problems in society. One may hope that this hateful practice and its associated problems would not lead to the breeding of deranged generation of youths. Over time, many writers have given various opinions about the drug, its uses, abuses, and consequences. Similarly, researchers from various academic backgrounds such as medicine, pharmacy, and other related social sciences have contributed to issues related to drug uses, effects, and consequences. However, in their attempt to check and proffer solutions, their efforts have really defied any cure. The story is the same over the whole world, and not different from the Nigerian experience. Drug abuse has been of major concern to the government, academia, and society at large. This has actually constituted a great effect on the socio-economic development of individuals, families, the community and the state. A society predominantly made up of young persons who indulge in drug abuse cannot be regarded as a healthy and a developed one, since the abusers lose their potentialities to this activity. The consequences of drug abuse are many, and range from large numbers of untimely deaths such as suicides, and road accidents, violent crimes, laziness, and subsequent impoverishment. To this end, homes are broken, dreams are shattered, and potential manpower is wasted as drug abusers struggle to sustain their habits. They, therefore, become burdens to themselves, families, society, and the state at large. Unfortunately, young persons who are supposed to shoulder Nigeria’s future development in terms of socioeconomic aspects are constant promoters of this subculture and anti-social activity of drug abuse. It is important that development, no matter in what form is hard to come by if the youth chooses to sacrifice their lives to the detriment of their future because of drug abuse. Socio-economic development, therefore, is the improvement in the capacity of the people with the emphasis on the youth, and their society to control, and manipulate their physical environment, as well as themselves for their own positive benefits and that of mankind entirely. This assertion is opined to establish self-positive-usefulness by the youth in developing society. The use of drugs has evolved through various stages in human historical development since humans have been consuming varieties of drugs from the crude stage to their sophisticated stage for different reasons which can either be positive as; maintenance of good health, disease management, alleviation of suffering and pains. Or negative such as; other purposes other than medically and socially accepted one. It can also be the persistent or occasional excessive use of drugs not in conformation with accepted practices. Drug abuse can, therefore, act like self-medication, excessive use of drugs, over or under dosage which leads to tolerance, physical and physiological dependence. Drug abuse is increasingly growing higher day after day with an accelerated decrease in socio-economic development. Thus at various levels, the government has promulgated decrees and edicts (as in military regimes) and laws during the civilian administration to check and curb this problem. Buhari and Idiagbong in 1984 enacted a decree called the Anti-Cocaine decree which spelled death sentence for drug pushers as well as the abusers. This decree, however, claimed many lives and was later abrogated and repealed by the Babangida’s administration which established the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in January 2015. Government’s effort in subsequent regimes poised to check this menace also led to the establishment of another sister agency called; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). In essence, NAFDAC is poised to check the excesses of drug production, circulation, quality, contents, distribution, and consumption. It is disturbing to see the ways by which youth access drugs through illicit and legal supplies despite the government’s regulation. Similar to this are the types of names given to the different drugs by the users, such as; “Haukata Yaro”1, “Aljan”2 and “Temple”3, etc. To some extent, even substances of economic importance such as Kerosene, aerosol, and correction fluids, etc are consumed as drugs. It is evidenced that the streets, Rehabilitation Centres or Correctional Institutions, and Psychiatric Hospitals, are all full of these ill-behaved youths who are either being rehabilitated or are becoming more dangerous as they meet new chains of gangs in such centres. Against this backdrop, several societal and environmental factors go a long way in contributing to this tremendous increase of drug abuse, and they are: (a) Proliferation of patent medicine stores whether licensed or not, (b) Parental negligence, (c) Economic backgrounds, (d) Peer pressure, 1 Commonly used among substance abusers in Nigeria, it is coined from the Hausa words “Hauka”; meaning madness, while “Yaro” means boy. The combination gives us what we can say in English as “make the boy go mad”. 2 Commonly used among substance abusers, it is an Arabic word that forms the Hausa vocabulary, and it means “heaven”. 3 Derived from the English word for a place of worship, here it brands a hard drug that makes its user hallucinate. (e) Societal failure in reporting drug-related cases to the appropriate authorities. My concern for this development has orchestrated this work which will give an insight into the problem and how individuals, the society, and the government can solve it, while in the same vein saving the image of the country from international embarrassment.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
This study is instigated by the increasing use and abuse of drug among youths in Nigeria. Drug abuse and its effects on the youths are relevant to the present trend of event, which was noticed to be increasingly growing as observed. Drug abuse has been found to bring different kinds of hazards to both the individual and the country as a result of an increased intake.In Benue state, the predominant dwellers indulge in drug consumption as a social cultural whereby drug sellers sell the products to youths. Also in youthful birthday parties, drugs are being distributed as a type of refreshment to guests. The younger ones grow up to become drug abuser, thereby seeming no harm whatsoever in use of drug intake. Youth and adolescent of this community also pick up this habit through observing others abusing drug. In other words, these people are typically family members, parent, friends and neighbours around them. On the health effect, Barry (2016) states that damage to the ovum or sperm before conception can lead to abnormalities in the child. He further says that if the foetus is exposed to alcohol in the mother’s blood in the early weeks, it may be born with foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Some studies suggest that marijuana produces change in the user’s chromosome and as with nicotine and alcohol may damage sperm, reducing fertility and affecting the developing foetus. A defective ovum which is fertilized is likely to produce an early miscarriage. Chronic cannabises use causes decreased level of male hormone testestone, testicular, degeneration and arrested or abnormal sperm production (Barry, 2016).It is in consideration of the above that the researcher is concerned with survey of the socio-economic impact of drug and substance abuse on the youths in Nigeria and understanding reasons for the proliferation of drug use amongst young people in Benue state.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the socio-economic impact of drugs and substance abuse among youths. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The study will be of immense benefit to the youths, the state government and the federal government of Nigeria in addressing the issue related to problem of drug abuse on the family, youth and general society
The study would also contribute to the knowledge Lauina (theory) discovered in existing relevant literature in the field thereby enabling government and non-governmental organization to find a possible solution to drug abuse.
In other words, it will provide scholarly information for further studies. More importantly the study will come up with a suggested program, that when put into consideration the problem of drug abuse affecting the family would be brought to the barest minimum.
1.7SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the socio-economic impact of drugs and substance abuse among youths, a case study of Benue state.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The importance of definition of terms in any academic work cannot be over emphasized. It is therefore necessary to define some terms in this work.
Youth: Summer (2014), defines youth as “the period of time when someone is young especially the period when someone is a teenager”. From Hornby (2014), “youth is the time of life when a person is young, especially the time before a child becomes an adult”.
Drug: Hornby (2014), (1) “an illegal substance that some people smoke, inject, etc. to give them pleasant or exciting feelings”. (2) “a substance used as a medicine or used in a medicine”. Onah (2010:2) defines drug as “any chemical substance that has an effect upon the body or mind, by modifying one or more of the terms”.
Abuse: “It is the use of something in a way that is wrong or harmful” (Hornby, 2014) Drug Abuse: Onah (2010), Sees it as “It is an excessive or inappropriate use of a drug by a person; such use being considered or judged to be illegal (immoral) by the culture and also resulting in harm to the person or society”. From Aka and Akunyili (2014), drug abuse refers to drug use mainly by self-medication in a manner that deviates from approved medical or social patterns”.
Alcohol: Hornby (2014), “Drinks such as beer, wine, etc that can make people drunk or that colourless liquid that is found in drinks such as beer, wine etc and is used in medicines, cleaning product, etc”.
Alcoholism: Royce (2013), “The use of alcohol that results or interferes with personal life including school, job, family, friends, health, food, the law or spiritual life”.
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