SUBSTANCE ABUSE

2 out of every 10 teenagers in my community is either taking alcohol or using weeds (and other forms of drugs) or belong to a cult.
Teens and young adult btw 15-29 years are the highest abuser of marijuana, codeine, alcohol etc in Nigeria. ‘NOI polls’
Marijuana is the most abused illicit substance in Nigeria
Where did it go wrong, how did we miss it as a community.
This article is in three phases even as we explore; where did it go wrong, the present situation of things (problems) and how do we curb/reduce the trend.
I remember growing up in my community, I so loved my education and academics that I start my stroll to school 7:00am every weekdays. The stroll always gives me time to reminisce as well as paint the picture of the future I desire. But all this fun part are always brought to an abrupt stop whenever I get to these particular section of the road, I always get to this section some 3-4mins walk away from home. In most instances, I take a long pause, a deep breath then I hold my breath before I continue my journey. The reason for this is not farfetched; heavy Marijuana smoking on the route I take to school every day for 5years of my life and is still the case today. The painful part of it is most of the smokers were youth and a lot of them had gotten addicted to it. The youth of our nation constitute the largest percentage of our nation and here they were wasting away. It always had me thinking but then I was pretty young couldn’t take any drastic steps as it were. Most of them where either jobless, area boys, cultist or belong to the garage. None having a serious handwork as it were. Majority of them barely finished secondary education, and even the one that did played truant while in school.
Now fast forward 10 years many young school leavers, teens as well as those still in secondary school are joining the band wagon of chain smokers at an alarming rate and I begin to fear for the future of our dear nation Nigeria.
Where did we miss it, where did it go wrong? The people I do see then while walking down to school are still there today at the same spot smoking and even influencing younger ones that come around them. The teens are now at risk of the same fate as them by virtue of association and communality.
What baffles me the most is how we lost our moral compass and intelligence this far, ignoring the dangers of substance abuse and delving right into the same with reckless abandon. This teens saw this people while growing up as ardent marijuana smokers that they detested only for them to grow up and join them without them having any positive achievements to show for their consistent smoking; not even a decent stream of income other than the lottery popularly known as ‘baba ijebu’. Who as bewitched our teens and youth.
Well let’s assume these particular set of people are uneducated i.e. are without higher institution degree, and therefore do not know of the dangers of substance abuse to a certain degree. To my amazements, even our undergraduates are far gone in the act and much more sophisticated as the case may be. With their exposure and enlightenment comes even more dangerous drugs and other substance use. Then I began to ponder what the point of education is if the knowledge cannot inspire you to make wise choices for your life. You abuse these substances at the expense of your health in spite of your intelligence.
It’s a common sight now seeing youths that are no longer sane as a result of addictions to drugs and other harmful substances, some can’t focus on simple tasks neither can they concentrate for a short period of time. They are always looking for their fix. I have seen a couple of disabled youths who got disabled because of a fight they got into under the influence of drugs and alcohols.
I begin to wonder, who has blinded the eyes of our teens and youth to see that there is no benefits of any such arriving from substance abuse.
Reducing and curbing this trend will also be a communal efforts. Advocacy and enlightenment campaigns on the dangers of substance abuse as well as restricting the media from promoting content that encourages the use of illicit drugs. The teens and youth of this generation are hooked on the media so its important that the media is also used as a tool to rescind these trend.
Youth and teens please get creative and maximise your ingenuity to improve yourself and your community.
Also as teens and youths, we can maximise our time and energy by volunteering with organisation that supports the cause that we have interests in. causes such as education, health, peace, clean water and sanitation etc. you can as well align yourself with organisations that are promote the sustainable development goals and volunteer with them.
The teens and youth when focused can drive the change they want to see in there community.
You can reach us via mail truesoninitiative@gmail.com or on twiter @truesonini
Stay off drugs.

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