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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 1, JUNE, 2010


DRUG USE AND ABUSE AMONG STUDENTS IN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS - THE CASE OF FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, MINNA

Coleman F. Essien
Department of General Studies, Federal University of Technology, Minna
E-mail: etukessien1@yahoo.com
Abstract
This study focuses on drug use and abuse in tertiary institutions, the case of Federal University of Technology, Minna students. It investigated the extent to which drugs are being used by students. Harmful drugs, subject to misuse as well as the reasons for use were highlighted. Some drugs commonly abuse is also shown. The survey made use of questionnaires to seek students’ opinion on the use and abuse of drugs. Descriptive statistics of simple frequencies and percentage were used for analyzing the data in respect of the research questions. The sample frame consists of 100 males and 100 female students. The research findings revealed that certain pre-disposing factors such as sex, age, family background, occupation of parent etc. contributes immensely to drug abuse by the students. The study also prop into reasons why students abuse drugs. Solution and the way out of the problem of drug abuse in tertiary institutions were suggested.

Keywords: Drugs, abuse, students, pre-disposing, tertiary


Introduction
Drug use and abuse is the primary reason why many youths are incarcerated, as well as a source of crime and health problem in our society today. It has become unprecedented problem in Nigeria that the number of youth incarcerated in various prisons across the country has increase dramatically over the last few decades. As a matter of fact, majority of these youths have been arrested for drug offences, and/or have a drug abuse problem. Some of the factors contributing to this arrest are the public awareness of the danger in drug abuse and the “war on Drugs” declared by the Federal Government using various agencies like the NDLEA, NAFDAC etc. However, since the year the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) was set-up in 1999, frantic efforts are being made to collect relevant information on drugs through variety of drug indicators for policy formulation. The impact of these agencies in terms of intervention strategies and control is tremendous.

The world today is witnessing an upsurge of issues that are of global dimension, for example drug abuse, human trafficking, HIV/AIDS, environment degradation and pollution etc. The problems including drug abuse heralded an unending desire in our nation to sensitize her citizens especially the youths of the evil of drug use and abuse which has reach alarming stage. As a matter of fact the social effects of abuse of alcohol which include road accidents, loss of jobs, poor academic and job performances, instability family set up etc. are sources of concern to the government. According to Muoboghare (1988) coaches and athletes should be educated on the deceptive and negative effects of alcohol. He emphasized that this is necessary since alcohol is hyperagglesic, that is it raises the pain threshold, the individual is likely to continue to performance even with injury. This is morally unjust on the part of a coach. Criminals are noted to take alcohol in access that even when they receive gun shot, may still put on a very high performance and escape with the injury without being caught.

Objective of the study
The purpose of this study was to find out the extent to which the students (both males and females) use and abuse drug in the Federal University of Technology, Minna. The study was also to determine the nature, trend and prevalence of drug use and abuse in the university. It was also set out to know the factors responsible for the use and abuse of drugs.

Literature review
What is drug? A drug is a substance used for medical purposes that change the state or function of the body. According Carroll to (1989), drug is any substance which upon entering the body can change either the function or structure of the organism. On the other hand, drug abuse is a situation when drug is taken more than it is prescribed. It could be seen as the use of illicit drugs, or the abuse of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Carroll (1989) further defined drug abuse as the deliberate use of chemical substances for reasons other than intended medical purposes and which results in physical, mental emotional or social impairment of the user. The abuse of legal drugs can happen when people use the drugs in a manner other than directed by the manufacturer or purpose that are not legitimate.

So many reasons have been advanced for drug use and abuse as a phenomenon with a complex etiology. For instance if young men and women who are potential drug addicts continue to reside in the social environment in which past drug use occurred, suggests that the use of such drug may continue. This is because most cases of drug use and abuse emanates from any array of psych-social reasons. Ahire (1990) noted that personality disorders and socio-economic environment are the major determinants of the victim’s involvement in drug abuse. Other reasons adduced for drug use and abuse are:- to reduce stress, build self-esteem, drug availability, peer pressure and the desire to be sociable. As a matter of fact, vulnerability may be inherited in the form of heightened susceptibility to a certain type of drug.

The abuse of various mood-altering substances has been reported to be prevalent among Nigerian youths (Lambo 1960). Moronkola (2003), also pointed out that some substances alter the mind, changed the user’s feeling, perception and behavior when they are used because they exert action on the brain. Global studies on drug use and abuse revealed that early initiation of drug use is one of the best predictors of future drug abuse and dependence, for instance youths whose drug use started before the age of 14 are more vulnerable to drug problems later in life than those who started using drugs at the age of 21 and above.   According to Osayomi (1999) from ancient times, the use of drugs has always been an inseparable part of occultism and the youth in tertiary institutions are deeply involved in this practice.  There are two aspects of danger associated with drugs; the risk of addiction and adverse health and behavioural consequences.

Drugs are basically two groups i.e. legally approved and acceptable drugs and illegal or legally disapproved drugs. Legally approved and acceptable drugs are drugs which have through the ages becomes a part of the society and had remained, Ballas (2006).  However, due to large quantities of these drugs being taken in and out of the country, the government imposes import duties on them. There are two main types namely: Tobacco and Alcohol. Tobacco is used almost universally by people throughout the world. Tobacco is rewarding for their manufacturing concerns and to the government because it brings in huge financial benefits. However, because of the danger associated with cigarette smoking, such as cancer of the lung, coronary heart diseases which leads to premature death, the Federal Government made it compulsory that every advertisement on any branch of cigarette must carry warning e.g. “cigarette is dangerous to health and smokers are liable to die young”. Therefore general avoidance of cigarettes smoking would greatly reduce the number of premature death. Obot (1992) reported that the rates of smoking among the teenagers especially students are high and seem to be increasing. He further pointed out that cigarette smoking and alcohol are responsible for more death and sickness than illicit drug use.

Alcohol is a substance that man has learned to ingest in order to get special bodily sensation many centuries ago and is deeply embedded in diverse cultures of the world.  It is used in almost all parts of the world yet many people are not even aware that it is a drug. According to Odejide (1989) many Nigerians do not regard alcohol as a very potent drug due to the fact that it is readily available and its use is socially accepted by the society. In some societies other than Nigeria today, drinking behavior is considered important for the whole social order and so drinking is defined and limited in accordance with fundamental motifs of the culture. In Nigeria alcohol has contributed immensely to various road accidents and crimes.  Odejide (1989) also stated that many years ago, alcohol used to be the preserve of adult males, but recent studies show that alcohol is now abused by the young ones and also the females. Alcohol is in the composition of many beverages and varies greatly in their nature and strength. Some have from .3-20% while some contain up to 50% alcohol. When this alcohol is taken in excess, the following effects could be experienced in the body:

  1. it deadens the nervous system
  2. it increase the heart beat,
  3. it causes the blood vessels to dilate
  4. it causes bad digestion notably of vitamin B especially when taken on empty stomach
  5. it interferes with the power of judgment and poisons the higher brain and nerve centre etc.

Apart from alcohol and tobacco, other substances with several appellations which are sources of great concern to the government are the narcotics. These are the hard drugs and are the most dangerous. They include codeine, heroin etc. As a matter of fact, these two are common ones among groups available in Nigeria. Others are morphine and paregoric methadone. These drugs reduce physical and psychological sensitivity, resulting in a loss of contact with reality, sense of euphoria, reduces fear, tension and anxiety. It also reduces physical activities of the user and causes drowsiness, constipation, nausea and vomiting in some individuals. High doses sometimes cause unconsciousness, coma or death  Regier et al (1990).

The sedatives are nicotine, tranquilizer barbiturates etc. Sedatives reduce tension, anxiety and inhibitions resulting in a feeling of relaxation and drowsiness. Over dose of the drugs produces blurred speech, staggering, sluggishness, reaction, erratic emotionality and untimely sleep. The stimulants include well known cocaine, caffeine or codeine, paracetamol etc. These categories of drugs when they are not medically used as anesthetic, are capable of elevating mood, suppresses hunger, decrease fatigue, causes sensation and sensory hallucination. Obot (1992) reported that many users of these substances are professionals in their 20’s and 30’s while others are nouveau riche businessmen or the adolescent.

The hallucinogen intoxicant is by far the most common hard drugs amongst the youths. The marijuana with various generic names has been reported as the most accessible drug amongst students. According to Odejide (1989), students refer to it as pep or superman pills. Popularly known as Indian hemp, Igbo, Ganja, the plant is cultivated in most villages due to the topography of the soil. Simmons and Paides (1977) reported that students who are involved in drug abuse are likely to suffer the consequences stated above and may have very low performance in his or her academic activities. In the same vain, Maher, et al (1966) also traced the high rate of crime in the society to drug abuse by the youth. The findings of NDLEA yearly data on drug abuse (1977, 1991, 1992, 1996), revealed tremendous increase in the abuse of cannabis by the youths. Its immediate effects have an initial stimulation which fades into relaxation accompanied by euphoria, and increase ability to communicate. There is also drowsiness, hunger associated with marijuana. There is also blood-shot eyes, occasional nausea and vomiting, clumsiness, decrease muscular co-ordination, dizziness etc. Sometimes more than one drug is used at a time, such as both cocaine and marijuana. This combination of drugs clearly suggests that drug use by such individual is well advanced and may be associated with psychological problems.

Theoretical framework
The two names, Michael Gottfredson and Travis Hirschi (1990), are identified with general theory of crime as basically the pursuit of self interest. Self interest and social control theory postulates that low self-control and social control can combine to predispose someone to criminality. This in essence means that if students cannot control their taste for certain things they cannot afford, may be lured into crime. Students who are from poor homes may have to exercise restrain over certain things else may be tempted to push drugs. Self interest and social control theory is applied to all forms of crime, for example embezzlement, murder, rape, robbery, drug abuse, under-age drinking, shop-lifting etc. The theory emphasized that the origin of crime could be traced back to low self-control, due to failure of the primary groups (family) in effecting normative behavior to the children (Goode, 2001). Family structures and functioning have crucial impacts on socialization and acculturation. As a matter of fact, families are primary agents of socialization and as such, are tempting to consider as direct causal agents of crime. The theory also identified incompetent parenting, lack of punitive measures emanating from dysfunctioning families as main sources of social maladies.  Behavioural outcome of low self-control results in property crime, violent crime, mental disorder, and alcoholism as well as drug addiction. However, criminality does not occur in a vacuum, but a person’s self-control will be indicative of the legitimate or illegitimate choices and behaviours in a person (Akers, 1991, Goode, 2004).  The theory further stressed that self-control and social control can interact in measures of a person’s potential for criminality. Thus the model provides assumptions that levels of self-control and social control can combine to predispose someone to criminality as demonstrated in the table below:


Table 1: Strength of a person’s criminality based on a combination of High and Low self-   control and social control

 

High Self-Control

Low Self-Control

 

High Social Control

 

Low Criminality

 

Medium High Criminality

 

Low Social Control

 

Medium Criminality

 

High Criminality

Source:  Gottfredson and Hirschi (1990)


However, the argument that if a parent care, monitor, recognize and correct, such a child will weighs the consequences before acting, may not be absolutely correct because there are situations where a child is adequately cater for, and yet indulge in criminal act. The theory therefore recommended a controllable family size so that the children could be properly monitored, controlled and managed.

Methodology
The population for this study consisted of the male and female students in four schools of the Federal University of technology, Minna. The students were randomly selected in four schools, namely School of Engineering, School of Science and Science Education, School of Environment Technology and School of Agricultural Technology. The total sample frame was two hundred covering 100 to 500 level students.

Instrument
The research instrument was a questionnaire design by the researcher on the use and abuse of drug by both male and female students of the Federal University of technology, Minna. The questionnaire was divided into three parts; the first part consisted of information on demography, while the second and third parts contained information on predisposing factors, drug use and abuse respectively. Respondents were asked not to indicate their names on the questionnaire to enable them give accurate information on the subject matter. They were also assured of confidentiality because of the sensitive nature of the study.


Results
Table 2: Sex of the Students


Sex

No.

% (per cent)

Male

120

60

Female

80

40

Not indicated

-

-

Total

200

100


Table 2 shows the sex of students in the four schools i.e. School of Science and Science Education, School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, School of Environmental Technology and School of Engineering Technology. It is clearly shown that majority of the respondents, that is 120 (60%) of them were males while 80 (40%) were females.


Table 3: Age range of the students


Age

No.

% (per cent)

15 – 20

30

15

21 – 25

45

22.5

26 – 30

43

21.5

31 - 35

32

16

36 - 40

23

11.5

41 - 45

18

9

46 - 50

9

4.5

51 above

-

-

 

 

200

 

100


Table 3 presents the age range of students in the four schools under study. Two hundred students were interviewed, of this figure 150(75%) were aged 15-35 years. This is an indication that the younger ones are predominantly drug abusers. Forty-one (20.5%) were aged 36-40 years and above representing lowest number involved in drug abuse.


Table 4: Family background


Family type

No.

%

Monogmy

85

42.5

 

Polygamy

101

50.5

 

No response

 

14

 

7

 

             200

                100


Striking relationship between drug use and abuse is demonstrated in table 4. The family type shown in this table indicated the type of family the respondents came from which could have impact on drug use and abuse. 85 (42.5%) are from monogamous home while 101 (50.5%) came from polygamous home. The larger the family size, the more complex and problematic it is to monitor and control every child. Students from polygamous homes are susceptible to external influence and pro-drug pressures commonly experienced by youths especially students.           


 

 

Table 5: Occupation of parents

 

Occupation

 

No.

 

%

Unskilled

5

2.5

Semi skilled

18

9

Highly skilled

15

7.5

Manson

14

7

Business/women

39

19.5

Trading

40

20

Farming

10

5

Civil servants

20

10

Banker

6

3

Engineer

11

5.5

Company Manager

8

4

Military

6

3

Police

7

3.5

Not indicated

1

.5

 

200

100


Occupation classification of parents in table 5 shows that majority of students came from low income homes. This is represented by Unskilled, Semi-skilled, Highly skilled and Manson i.e. 52 (26%) of the students came from low income homes. The frequency of drug abuse by students from low income home is low compared to students from high income home which is represented by 56 (29.5%).  This fact is revealed by the amount of monthly allowance given to the students by the parents as up keeps in the school. Therefore income factor play a major role in determining the students predisposition to drug abuse.



Table 6: Type of Drugs Use and Abuse


Drug

No.

% (percent)

Brewed Alcohol

34

17

Cocaine

10

 5

Heroin

2

1

Cigarette

45

22.5

Kolanut

28

14

Aspirin

25

12.5

Codeine

6

3

Local Brewed Alcohol

28

14

Cannabis

22

11

Total

200

100


Table 6 shows the type of drugs abuse by students. It is clearly shown that student abuse 2(1%) of heroin while brewed alcohol represented 34 (17%) and cigarette accounted for 45 (22.5%) respectively. Information obtained in this table also demonstrated a very wide spread use of Kolanut as a stimulant 28 (14%), while cannabis represented only 22 (11%).


Table 7: Reasons for Drug Use and Abuse


Motivation

No.

% (percent)

Reduce stress

25

12.5

Build-up self esteem

30

15


Ability to increase performance

13

6.5

Provide esoteric insights in the nature of self and the world of reality

 

27

 

13.5

Poverty and unemployment

17

8.5

Frustration

18

9

Hedonism

7

3.5

Reduce fear

25

12.5

Sense of euphoria

19

9.5

Relaxation prior to social event

13

6.5

 

200

100


 

Table 7 reveals that 27 respondents representing 13.5% believed that the use of drugs provides esoteric insights into nature and the world of reality. On the other hand 7 respondents representing 3.54% believed that Hedonism is the reason why students use and abuse drugs. It is quite clear in table 7 that factors motivating students to abuse drug is quite insignificant.

Discussion of findings
From our findings, it was observed that majority of the drug users were male students although the involvement of females was also evident. Students from wealthy families tend to command the highest number involved in drug use and abuse because of the excess financial allowance given to them by parents. The participation of students from low income families in drug abuse it was observed came as a result of low self-control and social control which can combine to predispose youths to criminality. The studies also revealed an appreciable number of student drug abuser between the age brackets of 20 and 35 years which correspond with the research findings of Obot (1992) that many drug abusers are professionals in their 20’s and 30’s.

Increase use and addiction to some drugs by students are probably related to its specific characteristics of producing an extremely pleasurable high morale that is very short lived. This encourages them into a more frequent or regular use to get the desired effects. Little was known about drug availability, trafficking and abuse by students until it was reported by Lambo 1963, Odejide 1980, NDLEA 1991 and Obot 1992). As a matter of fact the earliest trace of some of these hard drugs date back to 1980 when “well placed Nigerians and expatriates were holding cocaine parties in Benin City (Pela & Ebie 1981). Today drug use and abuse is prevalence in our society and information about the availability and types of drugs, methods of ingestion and drug seeking practice are readily available and could contribute to the development and widespread use of drugs in our tertiary institutions.

The studies also revealed that family size contribute immensely to inability of the parents to control their children. Family condition are considered, incompetent parenting exposes children to different types of danger in the society including drug abuse and other crimes. Children without proper home care easily full victim to peer-pressure. It is also evident that reasons adduced for drug use and abuse are insignificant and temporary. In most cases drug abuse emanates from an array of psycho-social reasons; for example peer-pressure, hedonism, depression, frustration and sometimes to build-up self-esteem.

Recommendation
Much evidence indicates that drug use or abuse is associated with student poor performance, absenteeism from class and even theft in and outside the university environment. It is therefore recommended that the security service should actively monitor the movement of students. Campus security should be heightened and regular check should be carried out. Scientific research shows that characteristics of the individual, rather than the drug, play a dominant role in vulnerability to drug use and abuse Glantz (1992).

This study therefore suggests the following strategies for control and prevention of drug use and abuse in tertiary institutions in the country and Federal University of Technology, Minna in particular.

  1. Ethnographic studies have been shown to be effective at providing contextual and accurate information on drug abuse (Feldman & Aldrich 1990). In this case students should be provided with factual feed back in respect of the rate substance use among peers to correct the misconception that everybody has the liberty to use and abuse drugs.
  2. Affecting counseling education is another method of reaching the students and creating the needed awareness and better self-perception in supportive group settings. It is a sure way of associated with several developmental opportunities especially in value clarification dealing with self-esteem which help students in working out many of their problems. In this case the role of counselors in Federal University of Technology, Minna, should be enhanced and focus on this problem.
  3. Drug-free clubs should be encouraged amongst the students in the campus because peer-pressure is one of the reasons for student involvement in drug use and abuse.
  4. Effort of the school authority should be geared towards intensive use of print and electronic media for public enlightenment.

References
Ahire, P.T. (1990) “Drugs Abuse, in Nigeria Facts, Causes and Remedies”. A Paper presented at the National Seminar on Drug Abuse Enforcement, Lagos, May.

Akers, R.L. (1991) Self-Control as a General Theory of Crime. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 7 pp. 201-211.

Ballas, P. (2006) News and Features, Department of Psychiatry, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia.

Carroll, C. R. (1989) “Drug Abuse in Nigeria Facts, Causes and Remedies”. A paper presented at the National Seminar on Drug Abuse Enforcement, Lagos, May.

Ebie J.C. and Pela, A.O. (1981), Some Aspects of Drug Use among Students in Benin City, Nigeria. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Feldman, H. and Aldrich, M., (1990)  The Role of Ethnography in Substance Abuse Research and Public Policy. Historical Precedent and Future Prospects. In: Lambert, E. Editor, 1990. The collection and interpretation of data from Hidden Populations National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rockville, MD, pp. 136-155. Research Monograph Series No. 98.

Glantz  (1992), A developmental Psychopathology Model of Drug Abuse Vulnerability in M. Glantz & R. Pickens (eds). Vulnerability to Drug Abuse. Washington D.C. American Psychological Association.

Goode, E. (2001) Deviant Behaviour, Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

Gottfredson, M.G. and Hirschi, T. (1990) A General Theory of Crime. Standford University Press.

Lambo J.A. (1960), Medical and Sopcial Aspects of Drug Addition in West Africa with special emphasis on Psychiatric Aspects. Bulletin on Narcotics, 17, (1,3).

Maher, L and Daly, K. (1996)Women in the Street-level Drug Economy: Continuity or Change? Criminology 34, pp. 465-491.

Mouboghare, P.A. (1988) The Effect of alcohol on the hear rate at rest and during exercise. In L.O. Amusa & J.E. Atolabge (Eds.) Applications of Scientific Principles in the making of an elite athlete (pp. 184-194) Proceedings of the Nigeria Association of Sports Science and Medicine Conference.

Moronkola, O.A. (2003) Essays on Issues in Health, Ibadan: Royal People (Nigeria) Limited.

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (1993), Drug Data Collection Report: National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (1996): Drug Data Collection Report
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Obot I.S. (1992) The Influence of Social Orientation of Predisposition of Drug Trafficking and Abuser Among Youth in Ikeja LGA of Lagos State. The Counsellor, Vol. 18, No. 421-429.

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