Yesterday, 31st May, was “WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY”. In this article titled: WHAT THE YOUTH CAN DO TO HELP FIGHT SUBSTANCE ABUSE, the Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Kebbi State Chapter, Aliyu Bunza, bares his mind on how best to fight drug abuse:
Let me start by first expressing my deep thanks and appreciation to the wife of the Governor, Kebbi State – Dr. Zainab Atiku Bagudu and to Mal. Nafiu Magini – Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth matters for convening this summit. I believe that this program will bring about positive changes among youths in the state.
Generally, substance abuse is a difficult topic to talk about. Many people have been affected in some manner by drugs and alcohol. Yet, the stigma surrounding the condition continues to suppress a public dialog on programs to improve treatment options and get those struggling with substance abuse into rehabilitation centers. In many ways, openly talking about drugs and alcohol can be an effective means to educate people from starting or continuing down a self destructive path.
Understanding that path looks can be another effective way to inform people about how a pattern of addictive behavior occurs. While addiction affects every person in different ways, the stages of substance abuse are general guideline for how even casual use can transform into behaviour that may not be easily controlled.
i. Experimentation Stage: The first stage of substance abuse is also the most dangerous. Many people’s first exposure to potentially addictive substances begins as a social event. Youths may drink with friends, while adults may dabble with drugs just for the experience.
For many people who are able to control their intake of drugs and alcohol; their experience with substance abuse does not progress past the stage.
ii. Regular Use: Once a person has progressed past the experimentation phase, regular use of drugs and alcohol ensues. It is also in this stage where drug and alcohol use begins to affect people’s lives. Collateral damage from substance abuse such as falling grades in school etc.
iii. Risky Use: Serious collateral complications to manifest as people’s normal lives clash with the instability of substance abuse. While some may think that a drink or two after work or school is harmless, they may not see their grades fall gradually and their group of friends change drastically.
iv. Addiction: At this stage, a chemical change has taken place within the body so no matter how hard people may try, giving up the substance of choice is almost impossible without help. People in this stage may experience sudden and intense desire for drugs or alcohol and will act on this desire until they go away.
The youth can help fight substance abuse in various ways, as a young person you are faced with many challenges. However very few have the potential to affect your life in a more significant way than the decision you make about alcohol and drugs, the decisions you make about alcohol and drugs will influence your health, your grades your relationships, your job or career, may be even your freedom.
So what can you do to protect yourself and reduce the risk of alcohol and drug problem?
Here are some measures for prevention and tips in fighting substance abuse.
i. Get Educated about Alcohol and Drugs: You cannot rely on the myths and misconceptions that are out there among your friends and on the internet. Your ability to make the right decisions includes getting educated. Learn about alcohol and learn about drugs. And, as you learn, share what you are learning with your friends and family.
ii. Speak out/Speak Up/Take Control: Take responsibility for your life, your health and your safety. Speak up about what alcohol and drugs are doing to your friends, your community and encourage others to do the same.
iii. Connect with your Friends and Avoid Negative Peer Pressure: Pay attention to who you are hanging out with. If you are hanging out with a group in which the majority of kids are drinking alcohol or using drugs to get high, you may want to think about making some new friends. You may be headed toward an alcohol and drug problem if you continue to hang around others who routinely drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs. You don’t have to go along to get along.
iv. Make Connections with you Parents or other Adults: As you grow up, having people you can rely on people you can talk to about life, life’s challenges and your decisions about alcohol and drugs is very important. The opportunity to benefit from someone else’s life experiences can help put things in perspective and can be invaluable.
v. Don’t be Afraid to Say No: Sometimes, our fear of negative reaction from our friends, or others we don’t even know, keeps us from doing what we know is right. Real example, it may seem like “everyone is doing it”, but they are not. Don’t let someone else make your decisions for you; if someone is pressuring you to do something that’s not right for you, you have the right to say no, the right not to give reason why, and the right to just walk away.
vi. Follow the Family Rules about Alcohol and Drugs: As you grow up and want to assume more control over your life, having that trust and respect of your parents is very important. Don’t let alcohol and drugs come between you and your parents. Talking with mom and dad about alcohol and drugs can be very helpful.
vii. Be a Role Model and Set a Positive Example: Don’t forget, what you do is more important than what you say! You are setting the foundation and direction for your life; where are you headed.
viii. Get Help!: If you or someone you know is in trouble with alcohol or drugs, get help. Don’t wait you don’t have to be alone.
In conclusion, Drugs and substance abuse is a major problem in the world today that has social, economic medical and legal implications. Nigeria, like many other developing countries has not been spared the problem of drug abuse. If anything, the problem is worsened by the fact that country is used as a conductor transit point for hard drugs destined to other parts of Africa. As such, some of the drugs filter into the local market and we are all aware that youth are the most affected as many of them become locked on drugs without full knowledge of the repercussions.
So, the government and the legislature should enact more laws to tackle the situation we found ourselves, our security agencies should intensify their efforts in blocking all the routes this drugs are coming through, the youth should also intensify their participation in drug abuse enlightenment programmes by the government.
Religious and community leaders should put in place some machinery within their immediate environment that will be checking and stopping the inflow of these drugs in their communities.
WHAT THE YOUTH CAN DO TO HELP FIGHT SUBSTANCE ABUSE: A PAPER PRESENTED BY ALIYU BUNZA, CHAIRMAN, NYCN, KEBBI STATE CHAPTER TODAY 26TH FEB., 2018