1.1         Background to the Study

According to Wikler (1961:78), drug addiction, “is the overwhelming involvement with use of drug, getting an adequate supply of it and a strong tendency to resume use of it after stopping for a period”.  Also the Encyclopedia of the Social Science (Vol.9, 2000: 143) captured drug addiction as “behaviourial pattern of compulsive drug use characterized by an overwhelming involvement with procurement and use of the drug and the high tendency of the user to relapse to drug use after a period of abstinence”. Consumption of psychoactive substances is an age- long phenomenon. In all known history and culture, psychoactive substances like alcohol, kola-nut and cannabis etc have been in use for several reasons- energizer, elevation of mood, reduction of hunger, stress, and anxiety.(James, 1999: 67, Reids, 2006: 347).  The use of psychoactive substances like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc initially was perceived as normal especially when used moderately for medication and in social settings.

In America, Asia and Europe, these substances were used for energizer and food; for instance in San Francisco, Thio (2003: 289) documented the wide use of cannabis by Chinos labourers for prolonged farming activity in their plantation. Similarly in Peru, Boliva and France, there were extensive use of opium, cocaine, cannabis etc for treatment of several ailment like stomach disorder, headache, fatigue body pain and above all to wade off hunger (Mamman, 1993.). The wide acceptance and use of these drugs resulted to devastating consequences like morphine addiction among veteran soldiers, escalated theft, homicide, proscumity, etc (Cornwell,& Cornwell, 1997). Sequel to this development, multifaceted programmes like drug demand and supply reduction programme, drug education, drug treatment and rehabilitation centers were put in place to tackle the scourge of drug addiction and its associated problems in America, Asia, and Europe.

In Nigeria, the psychoactive drugs known and used were limited to those most available locally like kola-nut, alcohol and tobacco.  Alcohol and kola-nut play a significant role in social settings like naming, marriage and funeral ceremonies (Ojoade&Ojoade, 1993.). However, with the increasing involvement of Nigerians in the trafficking of some drugs like cocaine, heroin, methadone etc and the influence of urbanization and industrialization many Nigerians took to hard drug consumption to cope with hash socio-economic realities of their time viz- deepening poverty, unemployment, hunger etc. Unlike the advanced countries of the world drug prevention programmes in Nigeria seem not to take consumption of hard drugs seriously; while our ports and boarders are heavily manned and multi million naira machines are installed to detect drug traffickers, no commensurate effort is made to check the increasing trend in the consumption of hard drugs, (Oladimeji, 1993).

The increasing prevalence of drug addiction in urban centers is devastating and pervasive. According to United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP, 1985),

Nigeria witnessed increasing use of illicit drugs especially cocaine and heroin between 1980-1990. Furthermore the UNDCP (2001) also affirmed that over 180,000 people are addicted to various kinds of drugs. It attributed the rising level with the central role played by Nigerian syndicates in international trafficking of these drugs. .Drug addiction has impaired family life and diminishes individual status and ego. The humiliating effects of drugs are well documented in both secular and holy books – The incest committed by Lot against his two daughters Geneses, (9:20-21) , and the exposition of Noah’s nakedness before the son was as a result  of alcohol – (Geneses, 19:30),

Drug addiction is a social problem pervading all aspects of life in Nigeria. The use of psychoactive drugs like cannabis, cracks, heroin etc has torn many families apart, destroyed lives, corrupted the social values and prevented many youth from fulfilling their hopes and aspirations, (NDLEA, 1998). Recent findings reveal that Nigerian youth especially school going children are neck deep into consumption of illicit drugs. ; For instance twenty five (25) students from Achara Layout Secondary school and ten (10) students from Government Technical Collage Anambra were expelled in 2003 owing to their involvement in drug. (Achema, 2003). Furthermore, the NDLEA, 2003 survey among secondary school in Anambra revealed that out of 48 drugs related patients in neuro psychiatric hospital Anambra, 36 of them were students who have developed mental problems arising from the use of cannabis.

Olukoya (1995) noted that Nigeria is fast turning into a major hard drug consuming nation. Also the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB, 1995) noted that the type and range of drugs abused are on the increase. In view of the above, it is evident that drug addiction is a social problem and has attracted the attention of the public. This study is therefore interested in understanding the perception of the public on socio-economic implications of drug addiction in Nigeria especially in Anambra urban.

1.2         Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, the issue of drug use and addiction is aged-long phenomenon. In the past drugs usually addicted to includes: alcohol, tobacco, and kolanut. However, the use of these drugs could not be seen as much problem as they were socially acceptable. In the recent time, with the increasing rate in social mobility, urbanization, industrialization and above all the involvement of Nigerians in transnational drug trafficking, there is abounding evidence that many Nigerians have begun to experiment with wide range of drugs like volatile inhalants, cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine and heroine (Ahire, 1990). In the past three decades, Nigerian ports are being used as transits routes by narcotic merchants from producing nations of Asia and Latin America to consuming nations of Europe and North America. This consequently has altered and increased Nigerians involvement in narcotic drug consumption other than alcohol, tobacco and kolanuts (Mohammed, 1990). Alemika (1993) revealed that a growing number of Nigerians have begun to use and become dependant on wide range of narcotics and psychotropic substances like cocaine, heroine, amphetamine etc.

Globally, drug problem seem to be youth affair, there is similar trend in developed and developing nations that youth of productive ages involve more in drug use and trafficking. In a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA, 2003) in USA, she noted that 30.7% of the students were using hard drugs. The survey further revealed increase from 13% to 22% among high school students. In Nigeria, there seems to be uniformity in drug trend especially as it concern young people. In Northern Nigeria, the (NDLEA, 2003) survey revealed that children of school going ages have resorted to the use of solvent inhalants like glue, gasoline, rubber solution etc. Similarly the (NDLEA, 2003) survey in Anambra among secondary schools showed that out of 48 drug related patients in Neuro-psychiatric hospital Anambra, 36 of them were students who have developed mental problems arising from the use of cannabis. The survey also revealed that more than 25 students were expelled from schools due to their involvement in drug use.

Social statistics from five major psychiatric hospitals in Nigeria reveal that over 50% of the patients were drug addicts (NDLEA, 1991: 2). The females are not left out in drug consumption. In epidemiological survey in 1982 and 1986, Odejide noted that females were more involved in psychotropic drugs like diazepam, lerazepam, chloridiazpond etc. Alemika (1999: 4) estimated over 500,000 drug addicts in Nigeria and projected future figure to ten million by the year 2000.

The growing trend in drug problems especially as it relates to drug trafficking and the negative consequences on the image of Nigeria made the then military government in

1989 to promulgate Decree 48 establishing National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); section 10 of the Decree was specifically to curb the menace associated with consumption of hard drugs, this section provides thus:-

Any person who without lawful authority, knowingly posses or uses the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroin or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than 15 years but  not exceeding 25 years. (The Law of Federal Republic of Nigerian Vol. 10).


The NDLEA concerted war on transnational trafficking on narcotics obviously resulted in decline in the distribution and consumption of some hard drugs like cocaine and heroine. However, in spite of the intensified efforts of NDLEA in containing transnational trafficking on narcotics, there are wide and increasing reports of drug use in Nigeria. NDLEA (2002) annual report attributed the surge in drug consumption and addiction to local growing of cannabis, uncontrollable supply and distribution of high potent house hold and industrial items like glues, rubber solution, gasoline, distribution of some depressant drugs like, ephedrine, lexotan, diazepam etc by hawkers in major towns and cities especially in motor parks and open markets and above all synthesization of novel substances by combining ingredients from various legitimate medicine by drug addicts. This shift and extensive use of high potent drugs by people of different classes and sexes has resulted to rapid increase in figures of patients admitted into the Nations psychiatric hospitals.

Nigeria is gradually becoming a nation with drug use problems with potential consequence of social disaster; this problem however seems not to bother the government as much as transnational trafficking in narcotics by Nigerians, hence the imbalance in the effort to cripple drug trafficking visa-avis research, treatment and drug abuse education in Nigeria. Contemporary drug policy is predominantly geared towards reduction in the supply of illicit drugs particularly to foreign countries through smuggling rather than towards domestic demand reduction.

Indeed, over the past decades, Nigeria has witnessed tremendous increase in illicit drug consumption by her citizens, this has heightened concern and anxieties over its socio-economic consequences. The high rate of consumption of hard drugs like alcohol cannabis, solvent inhalants etc has resulted in the development of notorious squalors that are breeding ground for criminals. These squalors exist in almost all parts of Nigeria; some of them include bar beach in Lagos, Obalende Area D in Nyanya Abuja, Obiagu and Abakpa all in Anambra. (Uloko, Aderoumu and Ojo1999). The ever increasing cases of anti socialbehaviour like theft, burglary, armed rubbery etc have been related to drug use. Olumodeji (2003: 42). Opined that compulsive drug desire is powerful factors influencing people to commit nefarious acts through which money can be generated. These drugs are capable of causing hallucination and illusion thereby distorting reality and diminishes temporarily the users sense of personal and social responsibility; under such illusive world drug users engage in anti socialbehaviours.

Furthermore, drug addiction drains societal resources which could be used for national development and enhancement of the welfare of the over all population. Drug addiction drains resources on the individual and the society at large. At the individual level the addict spends greater percentage of his/her income on drugs leaving little or nothing for more valuable economic needs of his/her family. At societal level, it decreases the economic productivity which results from deteriorating health conditions of the labour force, absenteeism, lateness to work by the addicts which reduces the over all productivity. Also substantial percentage of the national budgetary health allocation is utilized for treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts (Adelekan, 1999: 7).

Today, there is general consensus among experts that drug addicts have not only multiplied but are becoming more and more addictive to variety of hard drugs other than alcohol, tobacco and cannabis. The problem of drug addiction is now a global epidemic that has eaten deep into our society. In view of the above, this study therefore seeks to ascertain the publicly perceived socio-economic implications of drug addiction in Nigeria with particular reference to Anambra urban.



1.3       Research Questions

In view of the above problems associated with drug addiction, the following

research questions are stated for this study.

  1. What is the view of the general public on the factors that predispose people to drug use?
  2. What is the perception of the public on the drugs mostly used in Anambra urban?
  3. Is there any percived relationship between drug abuse and criminality?
  4. What is the view of the public on the socio-economic implication of drug abuse on Nigerian economy?
  5. What is the view of the public on the general performance of the law enforcement agents towards eradication of drug consumption in Nigeria?
  6. What is the opinion of the public on the best kind of measures to curb drug abuse?


1.4         Objectives of the Study

The major objectives of the study is to ascertain the socioeconomic implications of drug abuse in Nigerias. Specifically, the objectives of the study include the following-

  1. To ascertain the view of the general public on the factors that predispose people to drug use.
  2. To ascertain the perception of the public on drugs mostly used in Anambra urban.
  3. To determine whether there is perceived relationship between drug abuse and criminality.
  4. To determine the view of the public on the socio-economic implications of drug abuse on the Nigerian economy.
  5. To ascertain the view of the public on the performance of the law enforcement agents towards eradication of drug consumption in Nigeria.
  6. To investigate the perception of the public on the best kind of measures to curb drug abuse.


1.5         Significance of the Study

The study has both theoretical and practical significance.


Theoretical Significance

In Nigeria, there is a dearth of literature on drug addiction; most of the literature consulted by the researcher were foreign authored.  Most local literature on drug matter centered on drug trafficking.  Theoretically, the study will add to few literature on drug abuse from local perspective.  This will in no small measure expose the future researchers on the areas that have been covered and possibly act as a guide on new areas.

Practical Significance

In practical terms, the study will be of immense help to policy makers; as the study will exhaustively explore the major characteristics of drug addicts and drugs commonly addicted to. This will provide base line data for policy makers as well as agents responsible for war against drug trafficking and addiction; how and where to channel their energies and resources for better result.  The study will also highlight some weaknesses of the agents responsible for war against drug offences.

It is hoped that the out come of this study will help to create the much needed awareness among Nigerians and the dangers inherent in drug use.  It will also enable Nigerians and the government to appreciate the extent of the problem and by the same taken enable parents and school authorities to institute strict measures to check the involvement of their wards in drug consumption.  The work will also expose the major sources of some drugs commonly abused but not quite known in Nigeria as psychoactive drugs and the possible effects.  The study will hopefully be of immense benefit for training schools of officials of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).


1.6         Definition of Concepts

Drug Dependence: This refers to psycho-biological state characterized by a compulsion to take drugs on continuous or periodic basis in order to experience its psychological effects or to avoid the discomfort of its absence.

Drug Tolerance: This refers to progressive intake of larger amount or quantity of drug in order to ensure desired effect or result.

Physical Dependence: Is a state where the use of drug has become necessary or compulsory for the continued functioning of the body; withdrawal of drug at this stage results in physical symptoms like dizziness, cramp, tremor etc.

Psychological Dependence: It consists of emotional components with no physical symptoms on withdrawal.  The emotional changes which may occur include uneasiness, sleeplessness, lack of concentration etc.

Abstinence Syndrome:  This refers to physical and psychological symptoms which occur when the drug user abstains from drug use.

Drug Abuse: Is the use of drugs that can cause physical, psychological, legal or social harm to the individual or others affected by the drug user’s behaviour.

Drug Misuse: This concept refers to the use of inappropriate drug for medical treatment by a lay person.

Drug Addiction: This refers to continuous involvement with use of a drug, and a strong tendency to resume use of it after stopping for a period.

Hard Drug: The term hard drug consist of all chemical or natural substance consumed by man purposely to alter the natural function of his body through inducement of artificial temporary feeling of “high”.

Psychotropic Drugs: These refer to variety of pharmaceutical drugs which stimulate or depress the nerves and the central nervous system thereby cause alteration in thought, vision, mind and perception.

Narcotic Drugs: These refer to heroine, cocaine, cannabis etc.

Drug Trafficking: This is the act of carrying prohibited drugs like cocaine, heroin, marijuana etc by an individual or group of individual from one country to another or even within one country with the purpose of selling the drug to consumers in order to make high profit.

Hallucination: This refers to a state of false perception or experience of objects or events as a result of consumption of hard drugs like L. S. D, heroin, Cocaine etc.

Stimulants: These include all drugs that excites any bodily function especially the brain and the central nervous system. Stimulants induces alertness, elated mood, wake fullness and increased speech.

Cocaine: Is a powdered or liquid stimulant derived from coca leaves (erythroxylon coca) and it acts on the brain and central nervous system.  It is also called coke, white crack and flake.

Marijuana: (cannabis sativa) Is also a stimulant drug that grows freely throughout the world;   Its street names are marijuana, Igboo, wee-wee and grass, cannabis.

Alcohol: This refers to several intoxicating substances that result from either the fermentation or distillation of fruits, wheat, cereals etc.  It includes – wine, beer and


Solvent Ihalants:  These are numerous volatile fluids, gas vapour and powdered substances which are inhaled for their psychoactive effects.

L.S.D (lysergic acid diethylamide): This is the most common hallucinogen and one of the most potent mode-changing chemical.  It is a laboratory derivative of the alkaloids found in ergot, a fungus that grow on rye and other grains.  It is usually prepared into liquid.

Tobacco (nicotiana tabacum): This plant is origin of South America and is known for its high nicotine content. The tobacco leaves are harvested and converted into commercial products like cigarettes, cigar, snuff and chewing tobacco.

Opium (Papaver Somniferum):  Is a black or brown block of tar like substance produced from dried sap poppy plant.  It is a native of Middle East.

Heroin: Is highly addictive drug produced by chemical processing of morphine.  Its colour ranges from white to dark brown.  It is usually in powdered form.

Psychoactive drugs- Refers to any substance that alters or changes the mood or the psychological state of an individual.

Public perception- This refers to formed opinion of an aggregate of people in a community or state on issue that affect them.

Social Implications: These are the various ways either positively or negatively in which consumption of hard drug has influenced the people of Nigeria; it may be how it have affected relationship like marriage, health, personality etc.

Economic Implications: These refers to the possible effects of hard drug consumption on some economic variables like individual output in a period, his saving/investment  and expenses on ill-health.



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