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Youths go berserk over drug abuse

By Sunmola Olowookere

Jose (not real name) sat in front of the house. He felt at peace with the world as he contemplated the project before him. He had been trying to get his current “client” to look favourably upon his proposal but the “client” was not taking the bait.

He had to take some extra “substance” that night so that he could get the needed courage to hit on him hard. It was time he got some cash-out, he thought. True to type, the drug he took bolstered his courage and he was sure he could wrap up the deal that night.

As he launched onto his phone, he saw four hefty creatures approaching him from the side of the house. He stiffened as they approached him menacing. At a close range, he believed that they would be lions.

Then they moved more swiftly, he was alarmed and got out of his seat. His sense reeled from the effect of the drug but his fear was greater. As he moved, the little young pups became excited, thinking that he wanted to play with them as usual.

However, Jose was too frightened as he saw hefty lions in the little puppies that he was helping his uncle to raise. He believed that they would tear him to pieces. He doubled his speed and with a rush of adrenaline, leapt over the fence like a gazelle.

As fate would have it, he fell headlong inside the gutter and bashed his head on the concrete. Immediately, he lost consciousness and the people inside who were alarmed by the commotion rushed outside as they heard a loud thudding sound and the dogs barking in excitement.

He was rushed to the hospital because he had a deep gash on his head. He had to undergo a series of treatments and a procedure

*Substance Abuse common among artisans*

An investigation by The Hope revealed that substance abuse is common among artisans especially those who are involved in hard labour.

 Many of these manual workers claim that some hard drugs give them the needed energy to get through their day’s work. Musibau is a farm labourer who hailed from Kogi state. He was arraigned before the Federal High Court in Akure, Ondo state for possession of Cannabis a few years ago.

As his charge was read to him, he simply admitted in plain pidgin “I do am” in response to the court registrar’s query ” You do am abi you no do am” in translation into the language the accused person understands.

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He also admitted that he plants them on the farm and sells them to other labourers on the farmstead. He told the court that many of them used it to get the strength required to get through the day’s work.

Following his candid admission, the trial judge warned him of the consequences of his actions and magnanimously sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment.

Another victim was a dry cleaner, Taiwo Adegunju who has a shop in the Ijoka axis of the Akure metropolis. His secret became exposed on the day, he ran mad and began to pursue helpless school girls that were trekking by his shop.

They all ran for their lives but he was able to catch up with one of them. He pushed her to the ground and laid on her while making a rocking motion with his hips. It took the strength of some hefty youth to save the young girl who was screaming in fright.

Another one was a welder, simply known as Omolope, he too began to display some level of madness one day as he began to scream although his words were incoherent. He was chained so that he would not harm himself and his apprentices took him home.

While narrating his ordeal to The Hope, he said  that he had begun to hear strange voices after taking a combination of substances which he refused to divulge.

He said that he felt being hit despite the maddening effect of the substance he took. According to him, his apprentices told him that they needed to hit him so that he could calm down. He shared that he slept off the effects of the drug till the afternoon of the next day.

He vowed that following the wound he sustained from the debacle. Some of the scars from the blows he was given are still evident on his head and face.

Correlation between drugs and crimes 

Security experts have at different fora linked to abuse of drugs and substances to criminality in society.

At a recent security and peace meeting organized by the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in Niger Delta, a representative of the Hausa Community in the Sabo area of the Akure metropolis, (name withheld) lamented the high rate and the impunity at which drugs were being peddled in the area.

He shared that many of the youths lose their senses after consuming the substances, saying that many of them were able to commit crimes when they were high.

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He warned that the government cannot fight crime unless it mop up the hard drugs in circulation and block the links through which they are being peddled.

While stressing that a link exists between drug abuse and increasing violent crimes in the country in recent times, Assistant Commander in NDLEA, Mrs Yetunde Jetifous expressed that the agency was committed to sanitizing the society.

Jetifous however suggested proper education and awareness at all levels in strengthening the war against drugs by the agency.

Health implications of drug abuse

Drug abuse among youths in the country has hit an epidemic level as research showed that six out of 10 mentally ill patients in psychiatric hospitals are traced to drug-related cases.

This was confirmed to The Hope by the Chief Medical Director of Ondo State Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Akinwumi Akinnuoye, and the Assistant Commander in NDLEA, Mrs Yetunde Jetifous.

Other stakeholders who also spoke with The Hope expressed worry that if the menace is not checked, mentally deranged youths will litter the streets due to mental illnesses that are drug-related in the coming years.

They also warned that the trend portends a grave danger for the country with great economic and social consequences.

According to Jetifous, substances abused by many Nigerian youths are tramadol, cannabis, opioids, cough syrup, tranquilizers, sedatives, solvents, and inhalers, among others.

She expressed worry that despite the danger of each of the substances, the drug addicts are fond of mixing them to produce novel products known as “Gegemu, monkey tail, shisha, fonagahu, water taken from the gutter, skushis” and disclosed that some youths also drink lizard dung and ferment tranquilizers to get high.

The Chief Medical Director, of Ondo State Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Akinnuoye revealed that there was profound evidence to show a strong relationship between psychotic substances and mental illness.

His words: “From a professional insight,  we have more than enough evidence to show the robust relationship between psychotic substances like cannabis and drugs.

“This has turned into a huge problem in our nation which represents a significant burden and recently, there has been a clear increase in the use of these psychotic substances among youths in particular.

“We have professional insight into the early use of this substance evidenced in cases of secondary school students as young as 10-16 years old involved in this menace, with some of the most immediate devastating mind and brain-damaging effects on them. We see this often in our faces.

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“This trend increased in recent times and it’s very disturbing. Data also showed drug abuse is more prevalent in northern Nigeria than what we are seeing in the south, so in the future, more mental illness cases will be involved in Northern Nigeria.”

Akinnuoye also said many young people in higher institutions are actively involved in Psychotic substances for various reasons, which include academic frustration, economic challenges, peer pressure, and experimentation.

He said that psychotic substances are very active in the brain and aside from mental illness, they could lead to changes behaviour such as dysfunction, destructiveness, restlessness and aggressive behavior, complete lack of judgments, and hallucination.

Also speaking, a Psychologist, Oluwaseyi Adeshina said some youths have found solace in illicit drugs, such as marijuana, Lysergic acid, and diethylamide while some sniff soak-away.

He told The Hope that many patients in the psychiatric wards and drug users found in different slums were ages 20 and 40.

While lamenting the shortage of psychiatric doctors in the country, he stressed the need for drug education and reorientation, as well as adequate measures to curb the menace.

A Consultant Psychiatrist with the Osun State Specialist Hospital, Dr Majek Akande, noted that the increasing prevalence of drug abuse could be associated with the open drug market in the country, which allows indiscriminate purchase of drugs.

While adding that children from dysfunctional families were at higher risk of drug abuse, he noted that when a drug user enters the addiction stage, it may be difficult to stop the use, due to withdrawal symptoms.

A Guardiance and Counselling expert at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Dr. Salman Adisa said the high prevalence of drug abuse to bad leadership and unemployment, adding that the menace had led to an increase in crime in Nigeria.

Speaking on the solution, Don advocated for intensive counseling and vigilance on the part of parents.

On his part, a cleric of The Apostolic Church, Osogbo, Pastor John Fadipe said if care is not taken with the rising cases of illicit drug abuse, soon, drug abuse would become a norm in society while stating that some youths take hard drugs to boost their sexual hormones and to increase their self-esteem among peers and suggested counseling, enlightenment and prayers as solutions.

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Youths go berserk over drug abuse

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