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Do Drugs Really?

So, it seems that amongst the youth today, if you don’t drink; haven’t tried weed or smoked at least once, you are “not-exposed”. Well, it isn’t just the youths; the middle aged, are also very much guilty or should we talk about the older people and their snuffboxes? Apparently, almost everyone is involved in a...

Do Drugs Really

So, it seems that amongst the youth today, if you don’t drink; haven’t tried weed or smoked at least once, you are “not-exposed”. Well, it isn’t just the youths; the middle aged, are also very much guilty or should we talk about the older people and their snuffboxes? Apparently, almost everyone is involved in a form of substance abuse.

Things that can be abused include but are really not limited to:

  • cocaine and amphetamines
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • cannabis
  • hallucinogens
  • cigarette[nicotine]
  • opiates
  • phencyclidine
  • ecstasy
  • anabolic steroids

Now let’s talk about some of these substances.


The most addictive substance known is nicotine from cigarette. Smokers are twice more depressed than non-smokers. 50% of men that smoke are more likely to be impotent, they are more involved in traffic accident, and higher health issues like hypertension, diabetes, cancer,etc. Abstinence from nicotine for a period would cause irritability, depressed mood, increased appetite, insomnia, anxiety.


Cannabis is common among young people (33% men and 22% women); but let’s focus a bit more on Nigerian youths. Marijuana is practically everywhere accessible to all ages and sexes. A ‘joint’ is equivalent to five tar cigarettes. Although not addictive on its own, cannabis causes anxiety; slow reaction time; impaired judgment; dry mouth; increased appetite. Cannabis can be detected during routine tests in job interviews and applications. Applicants found positive of this substance may be disqualified for the role.

Realized why you didn’t get that job you were very sure you were well qualified for?


Ecstasy is not quite as common as less than a 10 th of the Nigerian population are engaged in its abuse (9% men, 4% women aged 16–24). It is also called MDMA or E.


Phencyclidine [other names; PCP, angel dust, dust] is dangerous and addictive substance. Known because of its ability to boost adrenaline levels, it can trigger violence, assaultive behavior, agitation, ataxia,hyper-salivation, paranoia, psychosis. Next time you see someone lifting a car, suspect phencyclidine?


Caffeine Overload is a problem that’s common with people who abuse the medication that contain caffeine. It’s also very much common in almost every avid coffee drinker. Its intoxication comes with restlessness, excitement, agitation, insomnia. Withdrawal may cause headache, fatigue, drowsiness, nausea and repeated vomiting.


Cocaine and amphetamines [crack, crystal meth], are usually found in highbrow communities due to their exorbitant prices. Intoxication may cause extreme happiness, anxiety, paranoia, grandiosity [believing you are more than what you are], stereotype behavior. Withdrawal from the substance causes depression, excessive sleep, increased appetite, nightmares, cocaine balls [crawling sensation under the skin] etc.

For the above substances, suspect addiction in cases of

  • Odd behavior such as mania, elation, aggression [cocaine, phencyclidine].
  • Unexplained runny nose/nasal discharge [cocaine].
  • Injection marks on the skin, hepatitis, HIV [all intravenously given drugs]
  • Repeated requests for analgesic or specific opiates such as codeine


Alcohol is the ugly brother of marijuana and it’s honestly not hard to find people being drunk at any time of the day. Try this self-assessment test to find out if you over drink.

  • Do you have increased Tolerance to drinking?
  • Do you worry about drinking?
  • Do you need an “eye opener” drink in the morning?
  • Do you have amnesia from alcohol use?
  • Have you made attempts to cut down on drinking?


Answered “YES” more than twice? You have an alcohol addiction

Now let’s talk about factors that can predispose an individual to drug abuse and addiction: factors such as age, gender, personality, family background known as individual factors and external factors such as surrounding culture, price, availability, setting etc.

Anyway, people usually present to the hospital after one of the following occurs

  • Acute intoxication following administration of alcohol or a psychoactive substance resulting in odd behavior, varying levels of consciousness, disturbances in cognition and perception.
  • Harmful use: recurrent use of these substances to a point where it is actually causing mental or even physical damage.
  • Dependence : 3 or more of the following is seen in dependence
  • Strong desire to take the substance.
  • Inability to control the quantity or use of the substance.
  • A set of symptoms such as trembling or sweating, hallucinations occurring when the
  • Increased tolerance to the amount of the substance used.
  • Neglect of other forms of deriving pleasure.
  • Continued use despite vivid evidence that substance is harmful.

If you abuse drugs a lot, or become dependent on them, they will have a negative impact on your day- to-day activities. You may also run into debts, problems with education/ employment, relationship and commitment problems, low self-esteem, crime — either in possessing an illegal substance, or to finance the habit.

We have all heard the story of the guy that had to be taken to the psychiatric hospital because he began to abuse a substance or of the Hollywood star that is currently a shadow of him/her because of substance abuse. Rather than criticizing addicts, you can contribute towards making sure that there are less of such people in our communities by ensuring that we stay away from such substances. You can also join a campaign against addictive substances.

What can be done?

  • The first step is having the DESIRE to stop.
  • Someone with a chronic addiction may find it difficult to withdraw without the help of a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.
  • Support from family members and friends go a long way in alleviating the stigma associated with addiction of any form.
  • Also, joining a support group where former addicts connect may go a long way in sealing a resolve to withdraw.
  • Some drugs have been put in place to battle the craving for the abused substance during the period of recovery. It’s a controversial method, but one that works.

Need to talk? Please reach out to us at contact@mentallyaware.org, We will listen and assist you with the professional support you might need without judgement.

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