|Published on: Aug 28, 2004|
|Drug abuse is the excessive, maladaptive, or addictive use of drugs for non-medicinal purposes. It also defines a state, emotional and sometimes physical, characterized by a compulsion to take drugs on a constant basis in order to experience its mental effects. Drug abuse gives rise to dependence both physical and psychological. Dependence gives rise to mental, emotional, biological or physical, social and economic instability. The effects of drug abuse on an individual therefore form the basis for its cumulative effects on the society. This is the major danger of drug abuse.
Youth in any society occupy a delicate and sensitive position within the population structure for several reasons. The Nigerian law for example recognizes that an individual below the age of seven is incapable of committing a crime and an individual between seven and twelve years should be able to know what he ought not to do that is if it can be proved he doesn't know and he also isn't criminally responsible for his acts. Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, a person is regarded as a juvenile, and while he may be held responsible for his acts or omissions, he is treated specially under the law by the Children and Young Persons Act instead of the Criminal Procedure Act.
Statistics have shown that drug barons prefer recruiting their traffickers from the ages of 15 to 35 years, most of whom are either unskilled, unschooled or students or the unemployed. There are several factors, which can influence the abuse of drugs among youths. The major ones are: peer pressure, weak parental control, child abuse, imitation, emotional stress, truancy among students, the availability of the drugs and the ineffectiveness of the laws on drug trafficking.
Types of Drugs Abused by Youth:
Several types of drugs are susceptible to abuse by youth. These drugs range from most common and less expensive such as cigarettes and alcohol to expensive and more deadly such as cocaine and heroin.
Cigarettes - these are drugs easily available to youth. They are classified as drugs because the contain nicotine and it has physical and psychological effects on the body. Cigarettes are addictive and they cause lung disorders such as cancer.
Alcohol - Beer, wine, brandy and spirits are in the drug category mainly because of their chemical contents and potential for addiction. Alcohol has a toxic and sedative effect on the body and is available without prescription. It is a central nervous system depressant and its consumption can cause a number of marked changes in behaviour.
Caffeine - This is usually abuse through the excessive chewing of cola-nut or concentrated coffee. It is the active ingredient of coffee, tea and some bottled beverages.
Marijuana - Also popularly called Indian hemp, is a drug that contains tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC) which determines its potency varying from 0.2% to 20%. It is a hallucinogenic stimulant, and is usually produced locally.
Hydrocarbons - Glue, gasoline, cleaning solutions, varnish, paint thinners, nail polish remover, and lighter fluids, all distilled from petroleum and natural gas, belong to the class of hydrocarbons. They are usually inhaled or sniffed.
Cocaine - Cocaine is one of the most potent stimulants of natural origin. It is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant grown in the Andean highlands of South America. Illicit cocaine is usually distributed as a white crystalline powder, often diluted by a variety of ingredients. The drug is usually administrated by snorting through the nasal passages.
Crack - This is a street name for a chemical directive of cocaine in hard, crystalline lumps. It is heated and inhaled as a stimulant. Youth usually go for this because it is less expensive than cocaine
Heroin: Heroin was first synthesized from morphine with a bitter taste. Illicit heroin may vary in both form and color, from white to dark brown. Heroin is about three times more potent than morphine, and it is readily available in Nigeria.
The danger of drug abuse has been defined as "a state of periodic or chronic intoxication, detrimental to the individual and society, of a drug." The major indication of drug addition is the irresistible desire to take drugs by any means.
Physical dependence manifests itself when drug intake is decreased or stopped resulting in withdrawal syndrome, which leads to a very distressing experience. Psychological dependence is experienced when an abuser relies on a drug to produced feeling of well being.
In conclusion it is important to reiterate the dangers of drug abuse in general and to youth involved in it.