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Drug Abuse Among Nigerian Students; The Impact Of Drugs In Our Tertiary Institutions

The rate of chemical abuse and substance dependence is becoming increasingly prevalent among the Nigerian In-School Youths of this generation.

Recreational drug use is illegal in most countries, yet some of these drugs are easily accessible.

But why are they so much in demand?

For some, it’s the thrill, the rush while others aim at finding solace to escape a deeper emotional pain by numbing themselves with tranquilizers and narcotics, amongst others.

Here are some of the most commonly abused drugs by young adults in our tertiary institutions.



Also known by other street names as Mary Jane, kush, pot, Marijuana, Eja, blaze, ganja, etc.

The psychoactive component of Cannabis – tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – is thought to have evolved as a botanical self-defense chemical, and is present in a subset of the hemp family of plants. Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug and is probably the most easily accessible in the world.


Some of the common side effects of cannabis include;

An altered state of consciousness. The user may feel “high”, very happy, euphoric, relaxed, sociable and uninhibited.

Distorted perceptions of time and space. The user may feel more sensitive to things around them, and may also experience a more vivid sense of taste, sight, smell, and hearing.

Increased pulse and heart rate, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils and often increased appetite.

Impaired coordination and concentration, making activities such as driving a car or operating machinery difficult and dangerous.

Negative experiences, such as anxiousness, panic, self-consciousness and paranoid thoughts.

People who use large quantities of cannabis may become sedated or disoriented and may experience toxic psychosis – not knowing who they are, where they are, or what time it is. High doses may also cause fluctuating emotions, fragmentary thoughts, paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations and feelings of unreality.

The effects of cannabis are felt within minutes, reach their peak in 10 to 30 minutes, and may linger for two or three hours. THC is highly lipid soluble and can be stored in fat cells potentially for several months. The stored THC is released very slowly, and unevenly, back into the bloodstream.

Red eyes to mention a few.

2)     CRACK

As opposed to powder, crack is a free base form of cocaine that can be smoked. It offers a short but intense high to smokers. It comes in solid blocks or crystals varying in colour from yellow to pale rose or white. Crack is heated and smoked.

It is so named because it makes a cracking or popping sound when heated. Crack is riskier and more potent than regular powder cocaine.


  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability
  • Tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin
  • Intense euphoria
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Depression
  • Intense drug craving
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses (even one time)



Tramadol oral tablet is a prescription drug that is available as the brand-name drugs Ultram (immediate-release tablet) and Ultram ER (extended-release tablet). Tramadol extended-release oral capsule is available as the brand-name drug Conzip. Immediate-release drugs are released into the body right away. Extended-release drugs are released into the body slowly over time.

All three forms of tramadol are also available as generic drugs. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

Tramadol is a controlled substance in some countries. This means it can only be used with a doctor’s close supervision. Tramadol is not a controlled prescribed drug in Nigeria

Tramadol is a narcotic-like pain reliever used in treating mild to severe pain.

Tramadol can stop or slow your breathing and can also cause seizures. Tramadol may be habit-forming, even at regular doses.



  • Abdominal or stomach fullness
  • abnormal or decreased touch sensation
  • blisters under the skin
  • bloating
  • blood in the urine
  • blood pressure increased
  • blurred vision
  • change in walking and balance
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chills
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • darkened urine
  • difficult urination
  • dizziness or light-headedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position
  • fainting
  • fast heartbeat
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • gaseous abdominal or stomach pain
  • indigestion
  • irregular heartbeat
  • loss of memory
  • numbness and tingling of the face, fingers, or toes
  • numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in the hands or feet
  • pain in the arms, legs, or lower back, especially pain in the calves or heels upon exertion
  • pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck
  • pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
  • pale bluish-coloured or cold hands or feet
  • recurrent fever
  • seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there
  • severe cramping
  • severe nausea
  • severe redness, swelling, and itching of the skin
  • sweats
  • trembling and shaking of the hands or feet
  • trouble performing routine tasks
  • weak or absent pulses in the legs
  • yellow eyes or skin

Tramadol is also used as a treatment for premature ejaculation during sexual intercourse but may have other negative effects like erectile dysfunction.


4)     CODEINE

Some over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription cough and cold medicines contain active ingredients that are psychoactive (mind-altering) at higher-than-recommended dosages and are frequently abused for this purpose. Any quick visit to the pharmacy will confirm that the craze for cough syrups is high. This is not because there is a cough outbreak, but the stimulating effect of codeine in these cough syrups.

Codeine – which is to be derived from the opium poppy and is related to morphine and heroin – is being abused by Nigerian youths at an alarming rate. Known as “Lean, Codeine, or Coder” as it is fondly called, has become a favorite for many drug abusers because it is very easy to obtain over the counter at big and small medicine stores alike. Young people often mix it with soft drinks for flavour and is usually taken with alcohol or marijuana for an extra punch.

A variation of “purple drank” is promethazine-codeine cough syrup mixed with alcohol.

Abuse of cough syrup is on the increase in many parts of the country, especially in higher institutions of learning and is spreading like wildfire. Sold between N600 and N800 per bottle, abusers of this drug, drink up to a bottle or two at a time. It is commonly mixed with soft drinks like Coca-Cola, Fanta or Pepsi. The main reason for the increased use of codeine is the euphoric effects associated with opiates.

A frequent user of codeine who spoke with ENCOMIUM Weekly (of September 23, 2013) on the reasons she uses the drug, Miss Opeyemi said, “I tried it for the first time about a year ago and ever since, I take at least a bottle every day. I mix it with chilled coke and sip with a straw.” Asked why she keeps using it and if she was considering quitting anytime soon, she replied, “Why should I want to stop using coder? It is not as if I disturb anybody with it. It makes me feel real good and at peace with myself. I don’t see any reason to stop.”



Common adverse effects associated with the use of codeine include drowsiness and constipation. Less common are euphoria, itching, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, depression, and coughing.

A person on lean may present a sedated appearance.



Rohypnol is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine with general properties similar to those of Valium (diazepam). It is used in the short-term treatment of insomnia, as a pre-medication in surgical procedures and for inducing anesthesia. Rohypnol (Rophenol) is another commonly abused drug among Nigerian youths.  Also known as ‘Ref, Roche, Roofies, Forget-me pill, Mexican Valium, R2, Roofinol, Rope, and Rope’ on the street, Rohypnol is popular with youths because of its fast action and the fact that the effect doesn’t wear off in time. It takes just within 15 to 20 minutes of administration and, depending on the amount ingested, may persist for more than 12 hours. Rohypnol is a date rape drug with criminally inclined young men often use, lacing the drinks of young, unsuspecting ladies with it in order to render them helpless as they helped themselves with their privates, it renders the victim unable to resist. Rohypnol is a tranquilizer about ten times more potent than Valium. Users either crush the pills and snort the powder; sprinkle it on marijuana and smoke it; dissolve it in a drink or inject it.

Rohypnol shot to national prominence when it was discovered to be the substance with which the late Cynthia Osokogu was drugged before she was raped and murdered. Despite the deafening noise by government officials, including the health ministry and the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), about banning the drug and making it difficult for the drug to be purchased without a doctor’s prescription, the drug is still much accessible to Nigerian youths.



  • Under Rohypnol, individuals experience a slowing of psychomotor performance
  • Muscle relaxation (loss of muscle control)
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Sleepiness and/or amnesia.
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches,
  • Memory impairment,
  • Dizziness,
  • Nightmares,
  • Confusion, and tremors.
  • Although classified as a depressant, Rohypnol can induce aggression and/or excitability


It is also worthy of mention that the use of aphrodisiacs or libido boosters, popularly called manpower on the streets or qurantanshi by people from the northern part of the country, or aleko in the South West is also prominent among the youths as well as sexually active men to boost their sexual performances. While the uneducated are mostly associated with local gin mixed with herbs for solutions such as Afa-too, sepe, paraga, opa eyin, etc, the educated ones and students are big on drinks like Alomo Bitters and the other ever-increasing list of bitters solutions. “Research conducted with producers of these local bottled herbal bitter reveals that there are no herbs in their products but chemicals. These chemicals are highly toxic to human system”. (Research source: the drug Salvation Foundation)

Local libido boosters such as paraga, shepe, ope eyin sell for as low as N50 per shot, while a bottle of Alomo Bitters sells for N250. Other bitters are available between N200 and N400.



  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Dilation of blood vessels in other parts of the body, causing headaches and fainting.
  • Facial flushing
  • Hallucinations
  • Irregularities of the rhythm of the heart
  • Mental disorders
  • Overstimulation
  • Paralysis
  • Sensitivity to light usually occur with high doses
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Tremors
  • Upset stomach
  • Weakness


7)     SKUNK

Skunk or SK for short is what some people refer to as the elder brother of Indian hemp. This is because it is much stronger than hemp and is a bit more expensive though it is as easy to get because it is sold by the same peddlers. Skunk is a mixture of weed and some element of cocaine and dried leaves and is sold for N100 a pinch on the streets. SK is a drug for the strong, and more youths, including ladies, are happy to try it to prove their ‘ruggeness’ as it were.



  • Loss of coordination and distortions in the sense of time, vision and hearing, sleepiness, reddening of the eyes
  • Acute headache
  • Increased appetite
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Heartbeat can speed up
  • School performance is reduced through impaired memory and lessened ability to solve problems.
  • Damage the lungs and
  • Damage the heart,
  • Worsen the symptoms of bronchitis
  • Cause coughing and wheezing
  • It may reduce the body’s ability to fight lung infections and illness



  • Boredom/Curiosity
  • Emotional Pressure
  • Environment influences
  • For Boldness
  • For Solace
  • Media influence
  • Peer Pressure
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Rebellion
  • Role Modelling
  • Self-medication
  • Social celebration
  • To avoid feeling bad
  • To feel good
  • To study

Some of the effects of substance abuse on the students include but not limited to;



Spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C through sharing needles, or having unprotected sex



  • Drug possession/use
  • Drug trafficking
  • Robbery
  • Prostitution and other sex crimes
  • Terrorism (Political gangsters)
  • Loss of productivity
  • Loss of the labour force (youth)



5 commonly abused drugs by today’s youth and their side effects






By: Mr. Samuel-Kayode


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