Background to the Study

In this contemporary world, growth and development in medical discoveries have brought about more effective drugs and have changed the overall health of many people. Many drugs are now available to prevent, treat or cure diseases, injuries and medical problems which consequently have helped millions of people live longer and healthier lives. However, many of these drugs and other non-medical drugs are being misused or abused by people most especially the youths. Cases of students’ involvement in drug abuse have been reported severally by Nigeria media and this requires an urgent attention.

The United Nations (2012) reported that about 185 million people globally over the age of 15 were consuming drugs by the end of the 20th century. The most commonly mentioned drugs were marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine-types stimulants (ATS), opiates and volatile solvents (Durani, 2012). Durani, stressed also that substance abuse touches millions of people worldwide each year. It is estimated that about 76.3 million people struggle with alcohol use disorders contributing to 1.8 million deaths per year.

Drugs mean chemicals that have effect on the body, mind or behavior. In other words, drugs are substances other than food that change the structure or function of the body or mind. In medical terms, a drug is a chemical taken in prescribed dosages to treat or prevent illness (Wayne & Dale, 1998). In this case, drug is often referred to as medicine, a vaccine, a tranquilizer, an antibiotic or some other medical terms.

In most cases, people use the term “drug” when they refer to medicine. Medicines are used to treat or prevent diseases and other conditions. Merton (1996) stated that medicines are usually grouped according to their effects on the body. Some of the most commonly used types of medicines include those that prevent diseases, those that fight infections and those that provide pain relief.

Vaccines are medicines that prevent diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whopping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, influenza, yellow fever and many others. The type of medicine used to fight germs is anti-biotic. It is a medicine that reduces harmful bacteria in the body. The most commonly used and highly effective anti-biotic is penicillin. For pain relief, Aspirin is the most widely used and available with doctor’s prescription (Merki, 1996). Narcotics, also a pain reliever, is so powerful that they may cause physical and psychological dependence (Merki, 1996).

In legal terms, a drug is a chemical that has a high possibility of being abused. People abuse drugs by using them improperly either socially or medically. For this reason, according to Wayne and Dale (1998), certain drugs are controlled substances. Laws restrict or prohibit the use of controlled substances. Restricted drugs are those sold only by prescription or only to persons of legal age. For example, morphine can only be obtained by prescription. Alcohol and tobacco can only be sold to persons of legal age, although, the reverse is the case these days. Prohibited drugs cannot be prescribed by physicians or sold legally (Wayne & Dale, 1998). Heroine is an example of a prohibited drug.

Drugs are substance that alter physical or physiological and psychological state of mind of an individual and the problems resulting from the use of them are not new. They have always caused social and health problems and are all harmful substances when improperly used. Pollock, Candace and Charles (1979) considered drug to be any substance, other than food, that by its chemical or physical nature alters structures or function in the living organisms. Included in this broad definition is a variety of psychoactive drugs, medicines and substances that many people do not usually consider to be drugs. Legal substances not usually considered include caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, aspirin and other over-the-counter (OTC) preparations (Pollock, Candace & Charles, 1979). These common substances are used so frequently in our society that they are rarely perceived as true drugs.

The World Health Organization (2010) defined substance abuse as the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Drug abuse is the arbitrary over dependence or misuse of one particular drug with or without a prior medical diagnosis from qualified health practitioner. The majority of Nigerian youths ignorantly depend on one form of drug or the other for their various daily activities, social, educational, political and moral use etc (Garwood, 2012).

The American Psychiatric Association (2010) referred to substance abuse as maladaptive patterns of substance use leading to clinical significant impairment or distress, as manifested by one (or more) of the following, occurring within a 12 month period: recurrent substance use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home; recurrent substance use in situations in which it is physically hazardous; recurrent substance related legal problems; continued substance use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the substance.

Merki (1996) stated that the term “abuse” applies to any use of an illegal drug or any use of legal drug when it is detrimental to health and wellbeing. Drugs that affect the brain, alter mood and behavior are the most commonly abused drugs. Drug abuse therefore, is a disorder that characterized by destructive patterns of using a substance that leads to significant problems or distress.

According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) world report (2011), Nigeria topped the list of countries that used illicit drugs in Africa (Garwood, 2012). Also, a report published by the Nation Newspaper on 15/01/2012 revealed that the annual prevalence rate in Africa for Cannabis use fluctuates roughly between 4% and 14% and it is the highest in the world. Nigeria has the highest rate of cannabis in the region, with an estimate of more than 14%. Dr. Olive Stolpe, UNODC representatives stated further that annual prevalence of Cocaine use in Africa in 2009 ranged between 0.2% and 0.8%, Nigeria with a prevalence rate of 0.7% again is among the top consumers within the region. Annual prevalence for Opiate use in Africa is estimated between 0.2 and 0.6 percent. In Nigeria, the Opiate prevalence rate was estimated to have increased from approximately 0.6 to 0.7 percent in 2009. This follows that Nigeria would have hosted roughly 500,000 heroin users (Anafi, 2011).

Many people most especially the youths use drugs as an escape from reality (such as unhappiness, low performance in school, family/relationship problems). Another factor why the youths use drugs as noted by Nicholsin (2013) is curiosity. Youngsters are eager to experiment on how drug works as a result of what they hear from their peers and other adults in the society that drugs make one feels good, alerted and functioning therefore, they become abusers.

Some youths inherit drug abuse/addiction from parents. Genetic factor just like some congenital diseases that are inherited from the parents to children, the drug addict/habits may also be inherited (Slideshare, 2012). Lack of knowledge about what drugs encompass makes youngsters engage in drinking alcohol as most people do not count it as a drug. Pollock, Candace and Charles (1979) stated that legal substances not usually considered as drugs include caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs.

Other factors that make youths engage in drug abuse involve, dealing with anxiety and depression, lack of parental care, loneliness, physical pain, low self-esteem, life frustration such as unemployment or broken homes. The easy access to these drugs and lack of stiff penalty on the abusers are part of reasons drug abuse is prevalent among Nigeria youths. Drug abuse does not necessarily correlate to how wealthy or poor one is (Merki, 1996). Some argue that wealthier individuals can afford to buy more drugs than someone living in poverty who might resort to abusing less expensive addictive substance such as in the case of sniffing glue to alter one’s physical and mental state. Hence, different circumstances induce one to abuse drugs.


Youths involvement in drug abuse has been found by researchers to have a disastrous effects on the abusers, the family and the society at large. Odedeji (2001) observed that the use of drugs among youths has always been a thought for concern. Maladjusted cases such as riots, indiscipline, moral laxity and poor academic performance of youths has been linked with the abnormal use of drugs. The health effects of drug abuse starts from the brain of the abuser. Drug causes a surge in levels of dopamine in brain, which trigger feelings of pleasure. The brain remembers these feelings and want them repeatedly. Changes in brain thus interfere with one’s ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, control of behavior and feel normal without drugs (Lawrence, Melinda, & Joanna, 2013). The individual may also experience heart attack, liver cyrosis, respiratory failure, coma, which may lead to death.

Drug abuser place a burden on the family members as they expend on him financial and emotional support. Abusers involve in crimes such as stealing, pilfering, assassination, armed robbery, prostitution. According to Olatunde (2001), drug abuse is associated with violent and anti-social behaviours, suicidal delinquency, acute psychosis and youth wastage in Nigeria are just few examples of delinquent activities. Further stated was that youths who abuse drugs develop mental disorders such as anxiety, neurosis, inability to concentrate and uncomfortable sensations within the medulla obloganta which preserved the central part of the brain. This is not strange as there are many lunatics in the major streets because of their dealings in India hemp, cocaine, heroin and other dangerous narcotics.

Drug abuse among youths confers disrespect on the Nigeria image in the international world. According to Akindelly (2009), drug abuse undermine the image of the nation. Nations that are dealing in drugs are usually castigated among the comity of nations. Citizen and leaders of such nations are thus treated as ‘pariah’ among their colleagues. The nation economy also suffers as government spends huge resources which suppose to be spent on infrastructural facilities for the citizens, in curbing this menace. It could thus be inferred that drugs abuse have an immediate effect on the brain and spinal cord. Long term use of these drugs can cause psychological dependency, physical dependence and tolerance. Death can occur when drugs are taken in doses the body cannot tolerate. Withdrawer from certain drugs may cause convulsion, a depressed breathing rate, and even death (Pollock, Candace and Charles, 1979).

However, law and policy have been made by the government to safeguard the integrity of its territory and the well-being of its citizenry particularly the youths, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs on their physical and mental well-being, and to defend the same against acts or omission, detrimental to their development and preservation. For example, the promulgation of a decree titled Tobacco Smoking Control Decree Number 20; which makes it an offence for any person to smoke in a cinema hall, stadium, public offices, medical establishment, lift, school, or nursing institution in any part of the country. It further stated that any person who contravenes the law shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than one month and not exceeding two years or both i.e fine and imprisonment. (Osagbemi, 2000). The decree also ban the sale of tobacco products and its advertisement on the media. That anyone found advertising tobacco products on any media shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction to fine of not less than N5000:00. If corporate body is guilty of this offence, every director, manager, secretary or similar officers in charge shall be liable on conviction to a fine not less than N5000 or term not exceeding three years of imprisonment or both (Osagbemi, 2000).

Despite laws and policies put in place to curb the menace, substance abuse is still on increase among Nigeria youths. In a study of five selected psychiatric hospitals, Obot and Olaniyi (1991) showed that drug related cases have increased since 1985. Ikwuagwu, Nafziger and Isichei (1993) also found that about 60% of substance abusers are young persons. The study of Obot (2003) on the Dimensions and Epidemiology of Drugs and Alcohol Consumption and Abuse in Nigeria raised an alert on its increase among youths. This is a contemporary issue of concern for every society that aims to attain a greater height in terms of economic, political, cultural and educational development. Therefore, effort must be geared towards this direction to arrest the situation.

Statement of the Problem

Youth’s wrong notion about drug that it gives them a different image, allows them to solve problems and make them respond to social pressures often lead to abuse of drugs. The most frequently abused groups of drugs are stimulants, depressants and other mood changing drugs which have immediate effect on the brain and spinal cord. Of which, it consistence and long term use can cause psychological dependence, physical dependence and tolerance.

Merki (1996) noted that as a result of important changes that teens’ bodies are going through, they indulge in alcohol drinking, which has led to the sobering statistics:

Approximately one third of the crimes committed by youths are related  to alcohol consumption; Nearly 50% of all teen suicide victims had been  drinking alcohol at the time of their death; Almost one third of all traffic

deaths involving a person under the age of 25 are related to alcohol;  Drinking alcohol is a leading factor in unplanned pregnancies and  sexually transmitted diseases, because making healthy choices

is difficult if a person is under the influence of alcohol (p. 73).

Nigerian youths have access to drugs because of its escalation in the society and no punishment conferred on the offenders. They take drugs in order to improve their self-esteem and self-confidence, to deal with loneliness, cope with life frustration and to comply with peer pressure, to pass examinations among others.  This has resulted into heath risk such as heart attack, brain damage, respiratory failure, coma, HI/AIDs on the abusers.

Drug abuse among youngsters affects their academic performance as they do not have time to study which consequently may lead to drop out in school. Robbery, prostitutions, absent in school and other delinquent behaviours has been noted. Idowu (1987) and Richard (2002) observed that cases of robbery and indiscipline are on the high increase among students of tertiary institutions. For instance, students under the influence of drugs indulge in deviant activities such as rape, truancy, destruction of school properties, breaking the school rules and regulations, beating up teachers.

In an effort to combat drug abuse among young ones, different organizations have sprang up both government and non-governmental organization. One of such is Narconon Nigeria. In November, 2009, a Narconon drug educator joined with government officials and educators to bring a drug free message to the youths. The occasion was the international conference against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. Organized by Narconon Nigeria, the public lecture held in Lagos brought together the representative of Oshodi Isolo federal constituency, a lecturer from the Department of Political science in Lagos State University, a representative of the Dayster Christian centre and the executive director of the local Narconon drug education and prevention office. Together, these covered public services officials spread the message that a drug free life is the best kind of life (Narconon Drug Information Department, 2013).

In the study by Coleman (2010) on Drug Use and Abuse among Students in Tertiary Institutions in Federal University of Technology where he found out that certain pre-disposing factors such as peer pressure, sex, age, family background, occupation of parent contributes immensely to drug abuse by the students. Oriahi, Ajekweneh and Oriahi (2012) conducted a study on Causes and Effects of Drug Abuse Among Secondary School Adolescents in Esan West local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. The result of the study shows that the majority of students were influenced by peer group and influence of parents on the use of drugs. Age, gender, parental addiction also contributed to drug abuse by the youngsters. Lastly, Raji (2012) investigated the Knowledge and Attitude of Tertiary Institution Students in Kwara State towards drug use in Nigeria. He found out that most respondents have knowledge of drug use but show negative attitude towards it. Also, gender, age, religion and school type have no influence on the respondents’ knowledge and attitude on drug use.

Despite different control measures that had been adopted, teens are surrounded with insidious influences that seem to encourage or condone substance abuse. In view of this, the researcher observed that few researches have been done on prevalence of, and motivation for drug abuse among tertiary institution students to cover Kwara state and to focus on roles counsellors can play to salvage this social ill. Therefore, this study aim to extend the scope of research study to effect of drug abuse on the social life of adolesent

Objectives of the study

The man objective of the study is on the effect of drug abuse on the social life of adolesent in secondary schools

The specific objectives of this study are to find out:-

  1. The effects of drug abuse on psychological behaviour in the following areas ; Cognitive, Emotion, Perception of alcohol abusers.
  2. The effects of drug abuse on social behavior in the following areas; Family related problems, Social isolation, Faulty life style of alcohol abusers.
  3. To determine the relationship between the gender on drug abuse .

Research Questions

An attempt will be made in the study to answer the following research questions:

  1. What are the effects of drug abuse on psychological behaviour in the following areas: Cognitive Emotion, Perception of drug abusers?
  2. What are the effects of drug abuse on social behaviour in the following areas: Family related problems, Social isolation, and Faulty life style of drug abusers?
  3. Does gender have any relationship with drug abuse ? 

Scope of the Study

This study is on the effect of drug abuse on the social life of adolesent in secondary schools. the scope was limited to secondary schools in Iffelodun local government area of kwara state. 

Significance of the Study

Youthful age has been characterized with great pressure from many sources such as following parent rules, completion of school tasks, but the greatest pressure come from peers. Most youths always want to go with the peers despite parent’s restriction from smoking, drinking alcohol, or drug use. They do not consider or aware of the aftermath of drug abuse before getting involved. In this regard, this study would help the youths to understand the negative effects of drug abuse on themselves, family and the society at large so that they may abstain from its’ use and develop resistance against pressure that may lead them to drug abuse.

Parents play significant role in the life of children. They determine the moral tone and discipline a child puts up. Any defect in their style of relationship or communication may lead children to all sorts of delinquencies, drug abuse included. The findings of this study would in this regard, be of immense benefit to the parents by providing them with an understanding of what drug abuse is all about and suggest to them effective communication skills instead of strict rules to relate well with their youngsters in order to prevent them from drug abuse and to those who are already victims in changing their maladaptive behavior for better future.

The school also plays an ‘in loco’ parenting role of helping youths to live a purposeful life by inculcating in students the standard moral and educational values. Therefore, the school administrators (principal/vice chancellor), non- teaching and teaching staff saddled with this responsibility should understand factors that may lead to drug abuse, its consequences and how to relate well with students in preventing them from drug abuse. Thus, the findings of this study provide them with the knowledge.


The school counsellor is involved with the responsibility of helping a troubled person to feel and behave more personally satisfying manner through interpersonal interaction and provision of information and reactions which stimulate the clients to develop behavior which enable him to deal more effectively with himself and his environment. In this regard, the findings of this study would benefit professional counsellors with the understanding of causes of drug abuse prevalence and its effects, and with the method to deal with drug abuse ill among Nigeria youths. The counsellors under training would also benefit from the findings of this study as the knowledge of drug abuse counselling is rarely provided during undergraduate training.

Among the aims of education in Nigeria is to inculcate the right types of values and attitudes for survival of the individual and the Nigeria society. Also, to train the mind in the understanding of the world around and the individual to live in and contribute to the development of his/her society. The Nigeria Ministry of Education is saddled with the responsibility of planning and implementing programmes to achieve these aims. Therefore, the findings of this study would help the ministry of education at every tiers of government plan and execute programmes that will discourage youths from abusing drugs in our various schools (from primary to tertiary level).


All establishments and organizations, government or non-government involved in social works would also benefit from the findings of this study. Understanding how prevalent drug abuse is, the cause and its deteriorating effects on the society will enable them geared effort towards helping youths who are drug addicts already and prevent others from getting involved.