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What is Drug Trafficking and Illicit Drug Use?

August 9, 2017 - Yemi Babafunso

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Definition of Terms

Drug trafficking

All activities that deals with the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws

Drug Misuse/abuse

Drug misuse is when prescription medications are used for mood alteration or intoxication in spite of the fact that overdose of such medicines can sometimes have serious adverse effects. It is the use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feelings it evokes.

Dependence

This has also been described as a cluster of physiological, behavioral, and cognitive phenomena in which the use of a substance or a class of substances takes on a much higher priority for an individual than other behaviors that once had greater value

Addiction

Addiction is defined as a physical and psychological dependence on a mind-altering substance or the compulsive use and dependence on a psychoactive substance.

Classes of drugs

  • Licit; These are substances that are harmful but permitted by the law to use examoles are tobacco and alcohol
  • Illicit; These are drugs that are illegal. E.g cocaine, heroine, marijuana (igbo), cannabis (gbana)

Commonly abused substances

Tobacco:

Nicotine is the major addictive substance in cigarettes although they also contain other harmful chemicals. Withdrawal symptoms of smoking include anxiety, hunger, sleep disturbances, and depression.

 Alcohol:

Alcohol depresses the brain, lessens your inhibitions, decreases muscle control and coordination, and may lead to addiction.

Withdrawal from alcohol can cause anxiety, irregular heartbeat, tremor, seizures, and hallucinations.

Cocaine

Desired effects include pleasure and increased alertness. Adverse effects include paranoia, constriction of blood vessels leading to heart damage or stroke, irregular heartbeat, and death. Withdrawal symptoms include severe depression and reduced energy.

 Heroin

Effects of heroin intoxication include drowsiness, pleasure, and slowed breathing. Withdrawal can be intense and can include vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, confusion, aches, and sweating. Overdose may result in death from respiratory arrest, destruction of heart valves, so on.

 Ketamine                                    

Effects of this include memory impairment, amnesia, paranoia and hallucinations, depression, and difficulty in breathing.

 LSD

Effects include hallucinations, numbness, nausea, and increased heart rate. Long-term effects include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and mood disturbances.

History of drug abuse in Nigeria.

 The origin of Nigeria’s drugs trafficking problem can be traced to the period just after the Second World War. Nigerian soldiers who had served in Burma, India, came back with seeds of the cannabis sativa plant.

The most widely abused and locally trafficked illicit drug in Nigeria and indeed West Africa is cannabis, in its herbal form because it is quite affordable and readily available due to the fact that it is cultivated and produced locally.

Causes of substance abuse

  • Chaotic home environment
  • Genetic risks (drug or alcohol abuse sometimes can run in families)
  • Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior
  • Greed for money
  • peer group and peer pressure
  • Perception of approval of drug use behavior especially by peer group
  • Availability of drugs

Signs of substance abuse

  • Giving up past activities and associations
  • Aggressiveness and irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression and suicidal tendencies
  • Avoiding friends or family in order to get drunk or high
  • Having to drink more to get the same effect
  • Taking risks, including sexual risks

Factors that Encourage Drugs Trafficking in Nigeria

  • Global drugs trafficking are a multi-billion dollar business.
  • Another factor is the quest of Nigerian youths to make money big and fast

Consequences of Drug Abuse

  • Physical effect; Drug abuse can have a damaging effect on all systems of the bodySocial effect (on family; wife battery, child abuse, divorce, unruly children)
  • Accidents
  • Taking sexual risks e.g having unprotected sex with a partner with unknown HIV status
  • Economic effect (low performance of work force i.e youths)
  • Extra burden on budget to fight drug trafficking
  • Strained International Relations with countries like Nigeria where substance abuse is prevalent
  • Loss of life
  • Increased crime

How to stop drug trafficking in Nigeria

  1. 1984 death penalty law ordinance
  2. 1989 NDLEA establishment
  3. Reduction of market
  4. Adequate funding and training of security operatives
  5. Orientation and education of youths by family educational institution, media, not just government
  6. Orientation on dangers of drug abuse

Treatment of substance abuse

The aim is to stop taking drugs, stay drug free and live a productive life. Treatment approach includes the following;

Prevention

Is the best approach to drug addiction. People sometimes think it will be easy to stop taking these substances when they are ready but only to find out they cannot. The government and other agencies can also help to prevent addictions by developing through education and the media, an environment of social disapproval for substance addiction especially tobacco and alcohol.

 

Medications

A person addicted to alcohol may require admission in order to ensure safe withdrawal. However drugs such as methadone  can be used to control withdrawal symptoms to drugs like heroin and certain painkillers.

 Therapy

This ranges from group therapy (where other people trying to quit addiction meet to encourage one another) to Behavioral therapy which provides strategies on how to avoid relapse and how to cope with drug cravings by changing thoughts and actions that make one use the drugs.

 Counseling

This could be individual, couple or family counseling to help improve relationship with partner and family members

 Detoxification

The process of managing withdrawal syndrome under medical care is called detoxification. It is important that addicts are closely monitored as withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. The clinician could prescribe drugs to help relief withdrawal symptoms.

 Mental status evaluation

It is important to check for signs of mental illness such as depression, anxiety and other mental conditions which make the person want to take drugs.

 Follow up

Monitoring and follow up of patient is very important to prevent relapse. Medications are also available to help re-establish brain function and suppress cravings.

 

Sources

Men and Addiction. (n.d.).http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/conditions/brain-and-nervous-system/a12019/men-and-addiction/

Substance Abuse. (n.d.).http://www.who.int/topics/substance_abuse/en/

Substance Abuse. (n.d.).http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/substance-abuse#1

Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.(2016,July.). https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

 

 

Yemi Babafunso

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