DRUG ABUSE: The habitual taking of illegal drugs. I’m sure a lot of us are familiar with what drug abuse is and we also know that it has almost become a norm among the Nigerian youth. The former Director General, National Drug Law enforcement agency in Nigeria, Mr. Otunba Ipinmisho said about 40% of Nigerian youth engage in Drug abuse which is a lot[1], considering the number of negative effects it has, compared to the number of positive effects (if it has any). 

Obviously, there are reasons for drug abuse. One of the leading causes of drug abuse is peer pressure. Often, teenagers/youth do a lot of absurd things so they can look cool in front of their peers or simply because their peers are doing it. Some even do it because of low self esteem or to gain approval among their friends. All of these can be classified as peer pressure. Another leading cause of drug abuse is depression which can be caused by a lot of things, trauma- loss of a loved, physical or sexual abuse, financial worries. Others include poor performance in school or at work, personality disorder, relationship problems etc. But does drug abuse bring a solution to any of the problems? It could help one make more friends, forget about your grief for a while and so on but that is only temporary compared of the danger of drug abuse itself or worse, the danger of drug addiction.

DRUG ADDICTION: Physical and psychological dependence on at least one illicit substance. It is a chronic brain disease that causes impulsive drug seeking and use despite its harmful effect on the drug addict. Quite a number of people who engage in drug abuse eventually become addicted. Some of them even become addicted without knowing because they have not bothered to stop using drugs. I heard about a girl who does not have appetite to eat until she gets high. There are people who have no confidence in themselves until they get stoned. Others cannot even concentrate or be productive until they are wasted. It’s really scary that these people don’t even know they are addicted. Some of them probably think getting high is what makes them do things but do not understand that getting wasted has instead, taken away their ability to do things they can do normally, allowing them to think they are nothing without drugs. It in fact changes the structure and how the brain works. The realization of drug addiction sets in when the drug addicts decides to give up on drugs and then realise they cannot do certain things without getting high. Of course addiction comes in different stages. It is easier for the drug addict when the addiction is just psychological. But when it goes beyond that, the drug addict finds it difficult to stop because the changes in the brain have become long lasting.

Not everybody who engages in drug abuse gets addicted at the end of the day, but drugs abuse does have other side effects, depending on the drug itself. I’ll highlight the most commonly abused drugs and their side effects.

CODEINE: It is an opiate used to treat pain as a cough medicine and for diarrhea. It has been classified to have a high potential for addiction. It has now been used as a means of getting stoned by young people because that is what the overdose those. Overdose of this can also slow breathing or make it difficult to breathe which could lead to death. It can also cause decrease in blood pressure and reduction in heart rate leading to fatigue. Other side effects include confusion, hallucinations, loss of appetite, urinary retention and so on I guess.
SMOKING: This can cause lung cancer, central nervous system disorders, digestive system disorders-(increase risk of cancer of the mouth, oesophagus and throat), rises blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, sexuality and reproductive system disorders (difficulty of achieving orgasms, infertility, may cause women to experience early menopause and erectile dysfunction for men.), poor vision, cervical cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, wrinkled skin.
MARIJUANA: I decided to make a separate research on this because some weed smokers argue that cigarette smoking is the only smoking that has negative side effects. Someone actually argued with me about this and in fact told me that smoking marijuana is actually good for the health. So I did some research, and I discovered that it could lead to short term memory problems, decline in IQ, severe anxiety, hallucinations, panic, risk of heart attack and stroke, antisocial behaviour, poor performance in school and a high chances of dropping out of school, causes women to be more likely to contract STIs, inflammation of the respiratory tract [2]. Marijuana contains 50-70%cancer causing substances than tobacco smoke. A single joint of cannabis can cause as much damage to the lungs as up to five regular cigarettes smoked in a row[3]. I guess this makes cannabis worse than tobacco. 

ALCOHOL: It weakens the immune system, can lead to stroke, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, liver problems and liver inflammations, cancer of the mouth, breast, oesophagus, throat and liver.
ROHYPNOL: Overdose of this may cause confusion, unconsciousness, difficulty in breathing and seeing clearly, slows breathing rate to a very low level when mixed with alcohol.
COCAINE: Causes depression, craving for more drugs, convulsion and paranoia even when the person is not high, increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke and seizures, breathing failure which may lead to sudden death, less sleep, appetite loss, sexual problems and reproductive damage and so on.
SHISHA: Some people also argue that Shisha smoking has no negative side effects. Shisha actually has the same side effects as smoking tobacco. Shisha smoking started when tobacco is soaked in fruits such as strawberries, grapes and apple. So it is just as good as smoking tobacco, only that it is flavoured which means it has the same side effects as tobacco [4]. 

I’m not going sit here and act like Miss goody two shoes. I have smoked a couple of times before, I was just lucky enough to be able to snap out of it in time. But a lot of people are not. Some people did drugs for the first time and everything has changed for them since then. Some others are lucky that they haven’t seen physical effects, but that doesn’t make you immune to the side effects of drugs. The best thing drugs can do to you is to give you something temporary at this risk of damaging something permanent like your organs etc. So please, try as much as possible to reduce drug abuse if you engage in it already. If you don’t, try to avoid it and talk to your friends who do it before it’s too late. It’s really not worth the stress attached to it. Bless up.

[1] http://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/05/20/40-of-nigerian-youths-engage-in-substance-abuse/

[2] http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/marijuana/short-and-long-term-effects.html

[3] http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2014/mar/06/michael-cerullo/ri-psychotherapist-says-marijuana-contains-50-70-p/

[4] https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/risk-factors/smoking/shisha

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