Substance Abuse – A Silent killer, On April 4th, 2015 at 6am I went to Jane’s room to wake her for school. We have been good friends since first grade. As borders, we stay in the hostel and her dormitory was not far from mine.
She was from a wealthy family and was an only child. The light was off and she was lying on her back, on her bunk bed at the edge of the room. Her roommates must have already left to shower I guessed. But it was unusual for Jane to still be sleeping as her alarm wakes her up at 5:30am I guessed she must have slept late. I called her name, but she did not answer. She did not move. I called her name again telling her she did be late for school. Still, she did not answer or move. Now I was starting to get a panicky feeling.
I went to her and I could tell something was wrong. I touched her and she was almost ice cold her breath was faint too. In my panic I screamed for help, luckily her room was close by, the house mistress quickly gathered hands and she was rushed to the clinic which was close to the school library.
The next thing I remember was the nurse coming out an hour later was the nurse’s calm voice saying she has been revived ooh! What a relief, “It was a case of an overdose of an opioid (substances that act as opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia)”. An overdose. how, when, and why, so many questions ran through my head at the same time. She had complained of a headache yes, she must have probably self-medicated leading to an overdose.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances including alcohol and illicit drugs(may include opium, marijuana, and cocaine). Most people now inhale offensive odors like the smell of urine, feces of humans and animals, smell from dirty clothes and burning smells, probably just to be high.
Substance abuse is not just the over intake of alcoholic drinks or illegal drugs but also the use of over-the-counter medications and overdose of prescriptions for faster action. Also, the use of stimulant drugs or substances more frequently to i.e. by students to keep awake and read through the night. This action can be a result of social, physical, emotional and mental or job-related problems. As of 20th January, 2022 NIDA reported that drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rise from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017.
From 2017 to 2019, the number of deaths declined to 14,139, increasing to 16,416 in 2020. According to world drug use reports, 35 million people are estimated to be suffering from drug use disorders, with 180 deaths directly linked to drug use disorders in 2019. Only 50% of countries have methadone available for the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence.
Substance Abuse Among Youths
Substance abuse among youths is fast becoming a global public health concern. Globally, harmful use of alcohol alone has been estimated to result in 3.3 million deaths each year and at least 15.3 million persons worldwide have been documented to be suffering from drug use disorders, with cannabis being the most abused substance according to WHO. Alex-Hart also reported 30.6% as the proportion of secondary school students in Port Harcourt, Nigeria who take alcoholic drinks.
In many Nigerian communities, alcohol consumption is socially acceptable including for the underaged.
This season came with the “mkpuru mmiri” saga an Igbo name for a very dangerous hard drug called methamphetamine or crystal meth other names of the drugs are Tina, Cristy, Yana crank or zip it was a season of madness in the Igbo land. This has led to so many substance abuse disorders such as addictions, nausea, increased blood pressure, mental instability, forgetfulness, loss of consciousness and sometimes death.
The study established that students engage in substance abuse mainly due to peer influence, lack of discipline and parental guidance, taking self medications, family history of addiction, life pressure, and lack of educative lessons on the effects of substance abuse, depression or stress.
Most students take antidepressants or stimulants in overdoses.
In my school SON NAUTH, most students now mix coffee in RC cola (a brand of soft drink) to help them keep awake. A student later complained of being absent-minded in the exam hall after staying awake overnight due to the effect of this substance.
Ways to control substance abuse
Ways to control substance abuse involve self-discipline, effective dealing with peer pressure( finding a good way to say no), seeking help for mental illness and examining every risk factor. As students finding easier methods of reading would also help rather than excessive intake of stimulants, which can also be harmful too, looking for better ways to be happy rather than taking alcohol will help too
If you are already suffering from substance abuse or you know someone that is suffering from substance abuse and addiction treatment is an option. Either to see a therapist or medical personnel.
Different bodies that handle substance abuse include World Health Organization (WHO), the National Drug Law enforcement agencies (NDLEA), National Agency for food and drug administration control (NAFDAC).
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HEALTH IS WEALTH
Ibemere Chigozie Rachael
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