Effects of Drug Abuse among University undergraduates

Effects of Drug Abuse among University undergraduates in Nigeria


This research work is on the effects of Drug Abuse among University undergraduates in Nigeria. It appears that not only the use of drugs that create problems but rather their misuse. In other words the widespread use of drugs has not only turned our attention to the dynamics of drug use and its determinants but also made it necessary to weigh the impact of this process on social institutions and social charge in future generations.

Drug abuse according to Laver (1978) simply means the improper use of drugs to the degree that the consequences are defined as detrimental to the user and or the society. The World Health Organization  (WHO (2006) also defined drug abuse as a “state” of periodic or chronic intoxication, detrimental to the individual and to the society, produced by the repeated consumption of a drug (natural or synthetic).

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Drug abuse patterns include all aspect of drug usage by the youths ranging from how much, how often and what sort of drugs, where who, with, what circumstances and so on. The analysis of  contemporary social problem has consistently proved more and more controversial because of the variables involve in their analysis, with the incidence of drug abuse, being of utmost concern to the abuser himself, his family, the government and the entire society in which he lives. This situation seems to have caused a lot of embarrassment to the government including most especially the damage done to the image of Nigerian abroad. It is obvious that custom officials in the United States of America and indeed the entire Nations of Europe subject the people of Nigeria traveling to their countries to a more thorough and embarrassing checks. This type of degrading and humiliating examination of Nigerians according to them is because they want to crack down on smugglers of which Nigerians are the chief suspects due to the hard drug trafficking posture exhibited by some greedy Nigerians.

Furthermore, Nigerian societies has defined some drugs as acceptable while others as not acceptable without reference to their effects on mental and physical wellbeing of t the of the users, for example, society considers the use of alcohol and nicotine as acceptable, hence those of them who take these drugs do so freely in public without fear of arrest or society stigma.

To the society as a whole, crime, promiscuity, armed robbery and other vices are all linked to drug abuse. Therefore this study is motivated by the controversy that surrounds the effect of drug abuse among University undergraduates in Nigeria.

1.1       Statement of the Problem

 Drug abuse in Nigeria in the contemporary time has become one issue that cast a gloomy shadow to the entire  Nigerian society especially among University undergraduates. The height of drug trafficking in Nigeria was witnessed in 1985 under the military regime. During this period, it was mostly the University undergraduates that were caught and the first to be executed for drug offences under the “special tribunal (Miscellaneous Offences) Degree No. 20 of 1984. However, the abuse of drugs is not only limited to the University undergraduates as alien phenomenon is to distort its significance.

Nevertheless, the usage of drug either by University undergraduates or other members of the larger society in all its ramifications appears to be a social problem. This problem is widely spread and it affect all and sundry. In other words, this wide spread use and abuse entice people from all walks of life and beyond the human destruction caused by drug dependence is the damage to traditional values and lifestyles. Studies have also shown that drug abuse wrecks individual, shatter families and weakens entire society with its burden of economic looses, health cost and increased lawlessness and crime.

Also, drugs seem to undermine the ability of University undergraduates to learn. Drug also appears to contradict our values of physical wellbeing. People experiment with drugs because they seem to hold the promise of fulfillment. But the fulfillment is generally elusive, greater and greater quantities are consumed and ultimately the person suffers both physical and psychological deterioration. The drug abuser also experience problems of interaction and this interactional problem is encountered both inside his immediate family and stress invariably is created in the family situation of drug abuse (Hoffman, 1990).

To add to this, drug abuse may entail a lot of social problems ranging from lateness to lectures, family neglect, deviance behaviours, involvement in crime etc (Earl 2000). In terms of economic cost, it includes the more money required to deal with the undesirable effects of the drug abuse, the less money for services and programmes that enhances the quality of life (Earl 2000).

One of the factors militating against the eradication of drug abuse among our University undergraduates is that our security agencies, such as the police force, National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies among others have not done enough to check this scourge. Another factor militating against  the  eradication  of  drug  abuse  among  Nigerian  University undergraduates is the problem of corruption among the men and officials of these fore mentioned agencies.

To this end and judging from the problems outlined earlier, this research aims at ascertaining the effect of drug abuse among University undergraduates in Nigeria using the University of Calabar, Cross River State as a study area.


The following research questions will guide the study.

  1. What are the common drugs likely to be abused by undergraduate students in the contemporary Nigeria society?
  2. What are  the  major  reasons  accountable  for  engagement  of undergraduate students in drug abuse in Nigeria?
  3. What are the likely implications for undergraduate‟s involvement indrug abuse?
  1. What are the measures that can be used to eradicate drug abuse among University undergraduates in Nigeria?


 To determine the effect of drugs abused by undergraduates in Nigeria

  1. To find out the drugs that is commonly abused by undergraduate students in
  2. To find out the implications for undergraduates involvement on drug
  3. To identify of this study also aims at looking at some of the measures aimed at eradicating the drug abuse problem among University undergraduates in
  4. To ascertain the reasons why drugs are been abused by the University undergraduates in


There is a great need for this study as it entails what the result for the findings would be used for. The results of the study should help in creating awareness in the society on the general effects of drug abuse on their health most especially the University undergraduates. It will make the youths to realize that excessive or even small intake of this item (drugs) has inhibitory effects on their brain.

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The result of this of this study will be used in making the consumers to have a second thought before partaking in the act. This will go a long way in modeling their behavior which the general awareness has created. The study will go a long way in reducing the numerous health problems encountered as a result of the misuse of drugs or the intake of hard drugs. The study will also help young researchers or writers to solve some problems of drug abuse, thereby ensuring good health of the University undergraduates or youths in general and social harmony in the society.

Finally, all the social ills in the society as a result of the effects of drug abuse among the University undergraduates in Nigeria will be drastically minimized.


  • Drug: A drug is a chemical substance capable of altering the physical and psychological function of the
  • Abuse: This means the misuse of It can also be described as the illegal use of something.
  • Drug Abuse: This is the misuse of It could be defined as the illegal use of substance which interferes with the human behavior.
  • Effects: This could be defined as It is also the power to produce result.




The term “drug abuse” refers to the use of a drug with such frequency that it causes physical or mental harm to the user or impairs social functioning. Although the term seems to imply that drug users abuse the drugs they use, infact, it is themselves or others they abuse by using drugs (Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia 1989:276).

Traditionally the term drug abuse refers to the use of any drug prohibited by law, regardless of whether it was actually harmful or not. This meant that any use of marijuana for example, even if it occurred only once in a while, would constitute abuse, while the same level of alcohol consumption would not. In view of the ambiguity of the term „abuse‟, the United States National Commission Drug abuse stated in 1920 that “it has no functional ability and has become no more than a code word drug presently considered wrong and illegal (Lexicon Universal Encyclopedia 1989).

The drugs commonly abused include, cannabis, sativa (marijuana or Indian hemp), cocaine heroine, morphine, opium, tobacco and alcohol. The sale and consumption of these drugs has caused a lot of problems in Nigeria society and in international communities. This is the reason why most of the drugs are prohibited by law and there are national and international agencies established for the purpose of monitoring and controlling illegal drug trade. In 1980, the Federal Government established National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to fight drug abuse and trafficking in the country. Since then, it has arrested many people involved in illicit drug activities and has seized various quantities of hard drugs. The former National Chairman of NDLEA, Alhaji Bello Latidgi stated in 2003 that his agency had seized more than 40million tons of cannabis, cocaine and heroine in that last one year. He also stated that a reasonable number of drug barons and traffickers were also arrested during the period and some of them had been successfully prosecuted and jailed.


According to World Health Organization (WHO 2002) the drugs commonly abused include cannabis sativa, (marijuana or Indian hemp), cocaine, heroine, morphine, opium, tobacco, alcohol etc. The sale and consumption of these drugs has caused a lot of problems in Nigerian society and in international community.

Alcohol belongs to the category of psychoactive drugs that depress and at the same time stimulate the functions of the central nervous system and the issue of alcohol use and abuse among undergraduates in Nigeria Universities and institutions of higher learning has been a great concern to al and sundry. The abuse of alcohol seems to make it addictive and the partakers are referred to as all who lies. It involves drinking to an extent which exceeds the norms of the society and which adversely affects the drinker‟s health, relationship with others and economic functioning. In other words, the victim finds himself drinking when he intends not to drink or drinking more than planned. It is the belief of WHO that, alcohol through legal in many countries can be an even bigger threat like cannabis, cocaine and heroine. It is probably the most visions drug of all (Shearer 1980).

The cannabinal drug firmly has been well known since ancient times. The drugs are produced from many varieties of cannabis sativa. The leaves and the flowering tops of the female plant secret an amber – colour resin containing the chemical cannabine, cannabinol, tetrahydro cannibinol which is believed to be the active substance causing the mood modification and behavior changes in the user (Jones 1999).

In the same vein, marijuana still remains the drug largely used by undergraduates and it is also the most controversial of all the popular drugs used by undergraduates. It is derived from hemp. Another name for it is Harshish. Locally, marijuana has other names as “Igbo”, “Wewe” “gangh” etc. It is locally grown and processed. As noted, the use and abuse of marijuana among University undergraduates. The users smoke or eat the leaves of the marijuana plant to induce a general excitement on euphoria. Although not everyone respond to marijuana particularly the first time they try it, the desired effects are euphoria and a variety of other agreeable sensations such as increased sexual feelings and changes in temperature, sensations on the skin, distortions of time and space perception that are not pleasant and an enhancement of appetite. The total effect of marijuana experience last from three to five hours after which the user feels lightly drowsy and hungry (Fantino 2002). Some negative effects of marijuana are, loss of memory, excessive bravery (Can lead to accident) loss of emotional control.

Another form of drug that is commonly abused by our undergraduate is called Heroine. According to (Kinch 2005), this is derived from the grumming substance extracted from the opium poppy and it is powdery. Opium is prepared by boiling the gum opium and successfully filtering out the impunities. Depending on the process, opium can be produced as a paste, powder, ingranules or in solution. It is known by different names in the addiction world and has various slangs or names such as Horse, Junk, Smack, Stuff tat, button, black stuff etc. According to (Kinch 2005), Heroine is either sniffed or injected and nasal use is called sniffing, subcutananeus injection, skin popping and intravenous injection. After a minute or two of intravenous injection of Heroine, the following occurs which some describe as similar to orgasm except that the sensation seems to be centered in the abdomen rather than in the genital region. The sensation is described as intensely pleasurable following. It is, the user feels fixed or gratified with no longer pain or sexual urges (Blim 1973). Users of heroine easily become psychologically and physically dependent on the drug. Heroine suppresses hunger, most users therefore suffer from malnutrition. Women who take heroine have the additional burden of possible complications and medical problems during child birth. Again, women who are addicted to heroine often given birth to children who are smaller than average, have serious infections and high mortality rates. Some of the children are born addicted and develop withdrawal symptoms shortly after birth.

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Furthermore, cocaine is one of such drugs classified as stimulant. It is extracted from the leaves of cocoa plant and like heroine, cocaine is a powdery substance usually white. Naturally potent stimulant cocaine has been found to be most addictive of all drugs. Cocaine may be sniffed (smoked) or as a powder (snow) or injected, intravenously either alone or in combination with heroine. The later combination is known as “speed ball” and is the most common form of cocaine used (Weisman 2002). Usually taken by sniffing, the euphoria that follows is short lived which is why users take it at short intervals. Say every 10 minutes. Taking the drug at close intervals according to (Weisman 2002) causes hallucinations, confusions, loss of co-ordination, tremors and convulsive movement. Apart from that, an overdose can cause delirium, increase reflexes, violent and manic behavior, convulsions and death. Other effects include lung and heart damage, malnutrition and paranoia.


 The question of the reason for drug abuse among undergraduate of Nigeria Universities or higher learning institutions has posed a question that seems hard. If not impossible to offer an acceptable answers because the reasons vary from drug to drug and person to person. Some reasons are poor environmental and conditions, fear from minorities and other attempt to escape the power of “corporate state” peer pressure and pure pleasure (Gilbbins 1976).

However, the major reasons for abuse of drugs by our undergraduates may include the following amongst others:

  • PEER GROUP INFLUENCE: The peer group is second only to the parents in socializing the Parents and peer group seem to extent almost equal importance by the time children are well grown up into adolescence. Thus, the peer group provides the developing child with a broad range of behaviours and cultural and sub-cultural values meanwhile a peer group is a group compose of individual who are equals (Morrish 1972). Accounts for why undergraduate take and abuse drugs, some may reason thus “if grown up take pills, use tobacco and get drunk, why should I not enjoy myself smoking marijuana or take drugs? They imagine that drugs are keys to enjoying life more fully. An individual in group which favours preponderance of definitions that favour the illegal or deviant behavior. Sine such groups also are likely to have access to supplies, there is a high probability that individual will experiment with drugs and ultimately become a drug abuser.There being integrated into a group in which drug use is approved is one of the strongest factors leading youths into illegal drugs.
  • THE NEED TO FEEL HIGH: According to (Prof. Ekpo 2007), University undergraduates in Nigeria especially in Calabar abuse drugs to change or alter the way they feel “to feel happieror better, to avoid pains stress or frustration”. They want to forget or to remember, to be accepted or  be  sociable sometimes to escape from burden or just to satisfy curiosity. However, in the long run, people who abuse drugs in the hope of solving one problem or the other run the risk of getting trapped in a spiral of increasing drug use that created new problems and finally leads to drugs dependence which worsens already worse situation.
  • SOCIAL STRUCTURAL INFLUENCE: The particular factor is associated with relentless harshness of In this case, life itself is one big hell of hand ball to kick. Academic frustration, rivalry, poverty, family problem, inherent physical deformities, widening gap between the rich and the poor make life one long stretch of mental future.

Hence, to summon up courage to face such situations and the task ahead, “University undergraduates find solutions in smoking, drinking, drug taking of all sorts on the firm conviction that these drugs provide euphoria release, great spur and a monetary escape from reality because of this, taking drugs becomes a habit to face life.

  • THE CRAZE FOR EASY WEALTH: Another reason often cored for undergraduates indulgence in drug abuse is that drugabuse/trafficking  is  a  quick  and  easy  way  to  make  money. Trafficking of drugs has become a multi millionaire business.
  • THE MASS MEDIA: Evidence abounds that children, youths and undergraduates who watch a lot of television programmes learn to rely on stereotypes of the various groups presented by the These children then transfer what they have learned from television to real life situations. This, if the stereotype was presented and always watched by a child favours drugs taking the child will imbibe the culture of drug taking.
  • PERSONALITY FACTORS: Finally, it appears that personality factor is another main factor responsible for the canker worm on Nigeria In this aspect, it is connected with distinctive personality traits associated with drug abuse. The “independent personality” is a major elements in profiles of drug addicts. In general, a drug abuser, that is a drug dependent person, has difficulty handling frustration, anxiety and depression.


Drug abuse seems to have become a prominent social problem in Nigeria especially among our undergraduate. According to (Nwaiwu 2002), drug abuse leads to serious health hazards for drug addicts. Drug abuse has adverse effects on the brain, kidney, liver, pancrease, heart and lung, thereby making them vulnerable to disease (Nwaiwu 2002). It also leads to other physical complications such as hepatitis, hepatic failure, tuberculosis in relation to alcohol abuse, infection and emaciation (Adedeji, 2003).

Again, drug abuse may result to serious psychiatric implications, these include confusion, restlessness and sometimes serious abnormal behavior or outright madness. At least one out of the psychiatric cases is due to delirious effects of marijuana. Besides, statistics have shown that 70 percent of patients undergoing treatment for drug abuse in nation‟s psychiatric hospitals are undergraduates between the ages of 16 and 25 years. It may also lead to poor performance in school work and may ultimately result in school dropout. Apart from that, it leads to the development of aggressive behaviour and depression mood that may esteem. Adedeji (2003) observes that drug abuse may give rise to sudden mood swings, with unusual aggression and depression for no apparent reasons or warning interest in school, hobbies or friends.


Parents and school authorities should advise the undergraduates to refrain from indulging in drug abuse.

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency should organize its workshop and seminars on drug free education in various secondary schools and institution of higher learning in the country.

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The mass media should play a key role in highlighting the evil effects of drug abuse.

The curriculum for drug education should be developed and made to be taught at all level of the educational system.

Drug addicts should be produced with necessary counseling services and socially rehabilitation to enable them quit the ugly habit and rely into normal life.



 The functionalist perspective or deviance has been further elaborated by Robert Merton (1910-2003). Merton‟s structural strain theory traces the origins of deviance to the tension caused by the gap between cultural goals and the means people have to achieve these goals. In society, culture establishes goals for people, social structures provide or fail to provide the means for people to achieve these goals.

According to this sociologist, Merton poor people are most likely to experience the same goals and values of the rest of societies but have blocked opportunities for success; (Merton 1978). Structural strain theory helps explain between unemployment and crime pattern than blaming poor and unemployed criminals for not having values of the middle class, structural strain theory explains risk involved in such action (Siegel 1998).


 This theory was propounded by an influential early American Sociologist Edwin Sutherland in the late 19th Century. He argued that all behaviour is a result of socialization through interaction. That is, how we act depends on how those around us desire us to act. How much we deviate from or conform to the norms depends on difference (or differentials) in whom we associate with.


According to this approach, deviance, crime, drug abuse etc are related to the society. Theorists have view deviance, crime, drug abuse and other allied crimes as related to the society. Society itself generated that they were not merely individual acts of anti-social behaviour. Having generated deviance, society operated in such ways as to reduce, not eliminate deviance and crime because they also had positive functions to the society (Jack 1973).

Against this background, people use drug in the society even to the level of abuse or addiction because the society has designated certain types of drug as socially acceptable. They are regarded as legal drugs and others as illegal. Such socially accepted drugs include alcohol and cigarettes which the user, use any how in the society on account of the favourable treatment accorded to them by the society.


The functionalist perspective or deviance has been further elaborated by Robert Merton (1910-2003). Merton‟s structural strain theory traces the origins of deviance to the tension caused by the gap between cultural goals and the means people have to achieve these goals. In society, culture establishes goals for people, social structures provide or fail to provide the means for people to achieve these goals.

According to this sociologist, Merton poor people are most likely to experience the same goals and values of the rest of societies but have blocked opportunities for success; (Merton 1978). Structural strain theory helps explain between unemployment and crime pattern than blaming poor and unemployed criminals for not having values of the middle class, structural strain theory explains risk involved in such action (Siegel 1998).


 The study was guided by the following hypothesis

  • Incidence of drug abuse among undergraduates in University of Calabar is likely to be higher than other social vices on the
  • There is a positive relationship between peer group influence and drug abuse among undergraduate students in University of
  • Undergraduates who engage in drug abuse are likely to experience some health



 The survey design will be adopted in this study. According to Bolton (1992), a survey design is used to access and predict the views, reactions or standings of a large number of people on a limited topic like the effect of drug abuse on Nigeria University undergraduates. Under survey design, the researcher develops a list of questions and present them in a standard way to each participant typically using either the interview or questionnaire.

3.2       STUDY AREA

 The area of study is the University of Calabar, Cross River State. The University of Calabar is located in the city of Calabar the capital of Cross River State. The University of Calabar occupies a 17 hectare of land on the eastern side of the city of Calabar, between the great qua River and Calabar River. It was found in 1975.


 The population of the study is made up of the students of the University of Calabar, Cross River State. The present population of the student is about 40,645.

3.4       SAMPLE SIZE

A total number of 150 respondents will be used for this study and it will be made up of the student of the University of Calabar.


 A simple random sampling procedure was adopted in choosing the population of the study as it involves a fairly large community of the University of Calabar which is the area under the research study, hence indicates a heterogeneous population.


 Questionnaire and indebt interview guide was used for data collection. The questionnaire contains two sections. The section „A‟ of the questionnaire contains items which were designed to give personal information about the respondent. The section „B‟ of the questionnaire have items on how drug abuse can be associated with youthfulness and whether it is common among male undergraduates than female.


 The data here will be analyzed using descriptive and (SPSS) statistical packages for the social science, via tables, frequency and percentage etc.




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