Family Affair

With Dr Nma Olebara (FCAI) WORLD DAY AGAINST DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING

The United Nations in 1987 set June 26 as the day to observe International Day Against Drug Abuse and illicit trafficking throughout the world.  It was an expression of its determination to strengthen action and co-operation to achieve the goal of an International society free of drug abuse.

According to the United Nations on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) nearly 200 million people are using illicit drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates and sedative hypnotics world wide.  The UNODC has over the years been actively involved in launching campaigns to mobilize support for drug control. They team up with other organizations and encourage people to actively take part in these campaigns.  Government, organizations and individuals participate actively in public rallies mass media involvement to promote the awareness of dangers associated with illicit drugs.

Drug abuse is the excessive or addictive use of drugs.  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, physical, emotional, biological, social, economic and spiritual instability.

Teenagers and young adults are particularly vulnerable to using illicit drugs.  The prevalence of drug use among young people is more than twice as high as that among the general population.  At this age, peer pressure to experiment with illicit drugs can be strong and self esteem is often low.  Also those who take drugs tend to be either misinformed or insufficiently aware of the health risks involved.

Other factors that influence the abuse of drugs among teenagers and youths are parental neglect and control, child abuse, imitation emotional stress, truancy amongst students, the availability and ineffectiveness of the law on drug trafficking, lack of parental affection and responsibility, family problems like broken homes (divorce) polygamy etc.  Illicit drug use is a concern because it poses a threat to their health.  Negative effects vary depending on the type of drugs consumed, the doses taken and the frequency of use.  All illicit drugs have immediate physical effects but they can also severely hinder psychological and emotional development especially among young people.

These youths are susceptible to several types of drugs.  These drugs range from most common and less expensive namely cigarettes, alcohol to the most expensive and deadly ones like cocaine, marijuana, stimulants etc.

Cigarettes are easily available to youths.  They contain nicotine and have physical and psychological effects on the body.  Cigarettes are addictive and they cause lung disorders such as cancer.

Alcohol or spirits are in the dangerous drug category.  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 is usually abused through the excessive chewing of kolanuts or concentrated coffee.  It is the active ingredient of coffee, tea, and some bottled beverages.  Some students believe in taking coffee to suppress sleep but nature can not be cheated.

Marijuana also popularly called Indian hemp contains tetrahydro cannibnol.  It is hallucinogenic stimulant and is usually produced locally.

Hydro carbons – glue, gasoline, cleaning solutions, vanish, nail polish, remover, lighter fluid.  They are usually inhaled or sniffed.  Drug Abuse has many negative physiological health effects ranging from minor issues like digestion problems or respiratory infection to potentially fatal diseases like AIDS and hepatitis C.  The effect depends on the drugs and the amount, method and frequency of use.

Drug abuse also causes brain damage depending on the drug, the strength and character of this damage varies.  But one thing is clear, drug abuse affects the way the brain functions and alters its functions to situations.  How drug abuse will affect one’s behaviour, actions, feeling and motivations is unpredictable.

Drug abuse damages the ability of people to act as free and conscious beings capable of taking actions to fulfill their potentials.  By giving in to bio chemical processes that are deviant, a drug abuser loses what makes humans admirable and unique.

Further consequences are violence among youths, terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping, fraud, theft, lack of respect for elders, rape, restiveness, cultism etc.

Leading a healthy lifestyle requires making choices that are respectful of body and mind.  To make these choices, younger people need guidance from role models and need to get the facts about drug abuse.

The International Campaign provides people and others with tools to educate themselves about the health risks associated with illicit drug use.

Parents have a major role of sincerely re-orientating their children on the dangers of these drugs on their health, social and human dignity because an adage has it that charity begins at home. Most of these societal problems are rooted in the families because of lack of parental neglect and control.

Schools should continuously organize lectures, seminars and film shows for the youths on the adverse effects of drug abuse.

The church and clergy should intensify their preachings on the spreading scourge of drug abuse among our youths in order to safeguard their career in life.

The Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) should continue to educate the public on the need to have a drug free society.

Again, parents should be available at home when their teens need them for support and information.  They should express interest in their school and extra curriculum activities, religious and youth groups.

Parents should keep track at all times of their children’s movements and the company they keep. They should involve them in discussions and be prepared to listen to their viewpoints as well. Parents have a major role of sincerely re-orientating their children on the dangers of these drugs on their health, social and human dignity. The should keep track at all times of their children’s movement and the company they keep, involved them in discussion and be prepared to listen to their view points.

Government on her own part, should see to the enforcement of the laws prohibiting absence movies, magazines and newspapers that promote drug abuse and violence among youths.  And a policy to check sexually provocative dressing of youths in public places which attracts sexual assaults on them.

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