Substance Use: Combating the Endemic Villain Raiding The University

A presentation held on the 19th of November, 2021 at 7:30pm was presented by Abdulhammed Babatunde and hosted by Oluwaseun Akinfemoye. The Asido Campus Network president Oluwasemiloore Atere gave the opening talk and set the pace for the presentation. A video presentation which was a vox populi of students about substance use in the university of Ibadan was presented where random students were asked questions about substance use, types of substances that are abused and their personal experiences(if any). The host after the video presentation, called on participants to share their views on what substance abuse is before the presenter comes on board.

According to one of the participants, Kasope Owoaje, substance abuse is the misuse of anything that can be ingested into the body. This may be drugs, marijuana, alcohol (and in some cases petrol or glue) for the purpose of being high.

Abdulhammed Babatunde is an advocate against substance abuse in the community. He started the presentation by sharing the demographic information of drug use in the states and geopolitical zones in Nigeria. According to the data, besides drug use being prevalent in Northern Nigeria and some parts of Eastern and Western Nigeria, the states of Gombe, Oyo and Lagos have the highest number of drug abusers. In the age group data, ages 30-34 are the highest abusers of drug/substance; although the data did not include alcohol and tobacco use, 59% of the Nigerian population takes Alcohol and Tobacco. Drug use is getting more widely used by youths and according to studies, 11 million Nigerians take cannabis, a third of which are frequent users. Drug and Substance abuse is a menace in our society and thus should be addressed collectively.

Most importantly out of the myriad of reasons why drug abuse is a problem is the 22% increase between 2010 and 2019, this is owing in part to global population growth. However, current projections suggest a 40% increase in Africa due to her rapid growing population and young population. In Nigeria, this means by 2030, the country will have to deal with 20 million drug abusers which would further deepen public health and public security.

Drug use and its abuse have effects on our health and its negative effects override its positive effects(if any). Drugs which people abuse were initially manufactured for medical use- opioids , anabolic steroids. These drugs are used in reduce pain in people with chronic disease like cancer; to reduce in medical surgeries. However, people have misused these drugs overtime. The negative effects of substance use/abuse include but not limited to mental depression, addiction and dependence, death and illness, ruined relationships. For some patients, they take drugs because of the pleasurable feeling they get from it, as time unfolds, they become disinterested in activities that makes them happy and they lose interest, feel lonely and this inturn leads to mental depression and in some cases, victims commit suicide. Alcohol and Tobacco are associated with diseases like kidney/liver problems, diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer etc. Also, a druh abuse victim goes throughout the stages of tolerance, dependence and addiction. A woman who abuses drug might start with two bottles of alcohol, which increases with time as her body tolerance ability increases, this turns to dependence and then addiction where she would not be able to live without taking alcohol.

The best cure for drug abuse is prevention. Withdrawing from drug use comes with a lot of symptoms like tremors, vomiting,change in appetite, change in mood, muscle pain, restlessness, fatigue and in severe cases, seizures and hallucinations occur. While the physical symptoms listed above might last days or weeks, psychological symptoms like depression or dysphoria last longer. These things makes withdrawal so hard that most of the time, if there is no close help, victims go back to drug abuse. However, the withdrawal journey is a worthwhile journey because it's a journey into fuller life.

Substance abuse just like every problem can be solved. These measures include information dissemination, teaching prevention in schools and communities, identifying the problem and referring it to experts, making policies that restricts access to the drugs and giving help to those who are already abusers.

Preventing substance abuse is the best way into solving it’s growing statistics and projections. Being intentional and moving away from its risk factors is important. Seeking help for mental illness, exercising, dealing with life pressure in a more health- friendly way, keeping a balanced life, effectively dealing with peer pressure. There are also refusal skills that can be learnt. ( Add power point page of refusal methods).

Treatment and recommendations about drug misuse and addiction are measures we should follow as individuals, government officials, policy makers. Drug abuse is a disease and its treatment is a possible measure although no single treatment is appropriate. Therefore, dedication on the part of the victim is mandatory, getting help from a therapist and having a support system in the family. In a family where the parents are drug abusers, the children should be given help because there is a high tendency of them being drug abusers too. Criminals who are drug abusers should be rehabilitated and given necessary help by the government. There should be follow up treatment because it is a recursive disease. Beyond helping drug abusers and addiction victim in stopping drug use, help is needed to help fit back into the society, gain family's confidence, have friends and live life normally. As advocates and individuals who are against drug abuse and addiction, we should, through all dispositions say YES to LIFE, NO to DRUGS.

In the questions and contributions section, the first question was about the appropriateness and possibility of getting help for a drug abuser without his/her consent. In response, the first step to getting help is the willingness of the victim to get help. Anyone who is willing to get help for someone who is not ready to get help should take it upon himself/herself to discuss the negative effects and downsides of drug misuse for the victim to understand the dangers attached to it. In addition, Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik illustrated the basic dynamics of drug misuse and explained how drug use graduates into drug tolerance, drug dependence, and drug addiction. It's a gradual process that leads to drug overdose and death. Drug withdrawal is a psychological and medical process which takes a period of time to bring the body system back to default. Victims have to be interested, willing, dedicated, motivated to walk half the way to help medical experts in helping them over the line. The unwillingness of the victim renders all help null, void and impossible. Above all cure and treatment measures, prevention is the best way out. According to Mr. Chuka, drug abusers should be helped when they are already violent and/or carrying out activities that put others at risk or jeopardising community security.

Another question was asked which bothered on how a person who is willing to withdraw from substance abuse but he is surrounded by drug abusers can pull through. In response to that, the willing victim should move away from that environment till he is fully free from subsequent pressure of substance abuse.

On legal issues regarding substance abuse, different countries adopt different approaches but in Nigeria, possession of illicit or illegal substances is a criminal offence and can be tried. However, this is not the best approach to curbing the abuse of drugs and substance.

According to Dr. Jibril Abdulmalik, a multi-pronged approach is needed. We as individuals and advocates should look out for our friends, we should take up leadership positions that would help protect people who need help as regards substance misuse.

The presentation came to an end after the question and answer, contributions session with the presenter enjoining ACN ambassadors to be proactive in advocating against substance abuse.

Reported by Blessing Opeyemi, 300 level of English Education at the University of Ibadan.

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Asido Campus Network

Asido Campus Network

Asido Campus Network is a student led mental health promoting club and the youth arm of the Asido Foundation dedicated in ensuring optimal mental health