Background to the Study
Health problems the world over are on the increase among human population. The increase in health problems involve wide spectrum of situations among which is the misuse, abuse and use of various types of drugs by students. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency-NDLEA (2009), pointed out data on drug abuse victims in Plateau State for years had been a progressive rise since 2005. Similarly in Canada, Drug Misuse Research Division of the Health Research Board-DMRDHRB (1997/1998) found that the total number of students treated in centres, which made returns to the National Drug Treatment Reporting System – NDTRS rose from 4,910 in 1997 to 6,043 in 1998. Moreover, the board further found that more than seven in ten cases of admission had before the age 20 first used their main drug of misuse while still teenagers (70 per cent) by 1997. Furthermore, the board also noted that while in 1997, 89 per cent of those that report to NDTRS had first used various drugs (not including alcohol) while in their teens, by 1998, this figure had increased to 91 per cent; that is, 9 out of 10.
In the area of study, experience and observation had shown that some students were often seen clustering around drinking and smoking areas in the evenings and most parts of the nights. These students were observed not to be running or transacting the selling business in such drinking and smoking places, which may imply that students may be interested and involved in the activities that obtained in such places that involved the misuse, abuse and use of various types of drugs. Despite this recurrent observation, no statistical data was available on students’ drug involvement in Langtang North LGA. It becomes necessary to study the drug misuse, abuse and use of various types of drugs of students as this provides baseline information in the area.
Misuse denotes use of something in a wrong way or for the wrong purpose (Hornby, 2001). According to National Health of Scotland – NHS (2007), drug misuse is the taking of substances in a way not recommended by the manufacturer. For instance, forgetting to take prescribed drug as at when due. Payne and Hahn (1986) stated that when drugs are inappropriately used, consumed or administered in improper amounts, drug misuse has occurred. The drugs that may be commonly misused as the same source indicated include: illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, prescribed medicines including painkillers, sleeping tablets, and cold remedies, khat, glues, aerosols, gases and solvents. Thus, when people under-consume or over consume drugs, drug misuse has occurred. Based on the above definitions one may refer to the following as drug misuse: when one ingest drugs earlier or later than when he or she is to ingest it; when one borrows a friend’s prescription and use same; when one uses the prescription of colleagues, friends or family members; when drugs are not ingested correctly and when din a wrong concentration, and so on. To this end, drug misuse in this study refers to the taking of substances, which is inappropriately used, consumed or administered in improper amounts that is incorrect, improper and in such a manner that leads to achieving a wrong purpose or desire. Following from the above, drug misuse may lead to disease, which can give rise to drug abuse.
Drug abuse as conceptualised by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse – CCSA (2007) is the use of drugs with centrally acting reinforcing properties that is associated with risk to harm the body against accepted scientific knowledge. American Medical Association‘s Committee on Alcoholism and Addiction (1966) defined drug abuse as the self-administration of drugs without medical supervision and particularly in large doses that may harm the body and lead to psychological dependence, tolerance and abnormal behavior. Drug abuse according to Payne and Hahn (1986) is the chronic, deliberate and excessive use of any drug (that can harm the body). This implies that drug abuse involves any long term or more persistent use of drug that can injure the body. Sizer-Webb, Whitney and Debruyne (1998) defined drug abuse as the taking of drug for a non-medical purpose and in a manner that can damage a person’s health or ability to function. The definition thus implies that drugs prescribed by doctors can be abused if they are taken in a manner that can cause harm to the body system as in the case of overdose. Jonas (2005) conceptualised drug abuse as the use of drug whether over the counter or prescription for purposes other than those prescribed on the product label, which may harm the body. This may follow that drug abuse can be detrimental to the abuser’s health status, leading to different hazardous situations in the abuser’s health as drug dependence, drug tolerance, drug addiction and drug habituation. In this study, drug abuse refers to any chronic, deliberate and excessive use of any drug, which can damage a person’s health or ability to function. Although drug abuse can be physically hazardous, the consequence(s) may be obvious among students.
Student according to Midrange (2006) is a learner who is enrolled in an educational institution. Microsoft Encarta (2008) defined student as that person who is studying at school, college or university. This may follow that the student can be a person engaged in study; one who is devoted to learning what may be within an age range. According to Runchey (2009), students can be those within the age level of 11-18 years old of lower or upper secondary. In this study, student refers to learners who are enrolled in studying at secondary school or college that are within the age level of 11-18 years. Following from above, secondary school students of between 11-18 years age who are of school or college status may be involved in the widespread in drug misuse and abuse known as prevalence.
Prevalence has to do with something that is prevailing, widespread, common, and frequently widely practised or more usual (Schwartz, 1993). In addition, Kent (2007) defined prevalence as the number of cases of disease, injury or illness present in a defined population during a particular point in time. The proportion of students’ that may be involved in drug misuse and abuse can be regarded as being prevalent.
According to Medicine Net .Com Doctors (2003), prevalence has to do with the proportion of individuals in a population having disease. This may mean that it is a statistical concept referring to the number of cases of disease that are present in a particular population at a given time. In general application, prevalence is the quality of being general or widespread or having general applicability. In this study, therefore, prevalence refers to the number, occurrence or proportion of students who misuse, abuse and use various drugs. The prevalence of students’ drug misuse, abuse and use of types of drugs vary according to patterns.
As described by Schwartz (1993), a pattern is a design or guide, which appears among people. According to Hornby (2001), pattern is a regular way in which something happens or is done. Similarly, Farlex (2008) stated that patterns have to do with any set of conventional principles and expectations that are binding on any person who is a member of a particular group. There are several types of patterns. Pridemore, Andrew and Spivak (2003) classified patterns into three demographic variations, temporal variations and spatial patterns or variations respectively. According to Maris (1981) and Stillion (1985), the demographic variations refer to the pattern that is concerned with variables of age, gender, level of education, marital status, occupation, socio-economic and health statuses. Demographic variations as described by Maris (1981) and Stillion (1985) will be adapted in this study to refer to drug abuse by students according age, gender and level of education. The use of age, gender and level of education in this study was necessary as it allowed for a reflection of those involved in drug abuse in the area of study. Age, gender and level of education of drug abuse by students in the area of study may have some temporal variations.
Temporal variations relates to variables such as seasons, months, days-of-the-week, presidential elections days, public holidays, national holidays and so on (Pridemore et al., 2003). In this study, the temporal variation was interpreted to mean whether it was in the mornings, evenings, at weekends or festive periods, during rainy and dry seasons that students in the area of study misuse and abuse drugs. The use of time in the misuse or abuse of drugs was important for it may be in the evenings, weekends, Christmas or Easter period, wet or dry seasons that students in Langtang North misuse or abuse drugs. In a similar way, Pridemore et al. (2003) described the spatial pattern based on geographic region in a particular country which could be divided into economic and administrative regions, or a result of the mixture of structural and cultural forces, which may be the socio economic development in the west or eastern part of a country. Office of Management Budget – OMB (2003) subscribed to the definition of Pridemore et al. (2003) when it stated that geographic variation can be based on county type, which reflects different levels of urbanicity and metropolitan area. In this study the spatial variations referred to drug misuse and abuse of students according to location that was in the rural or urban school. The other descriptions of the spatial variations such as economic and administrative regions did not follow in this study as that was not suitable and applicable in this study. Although the study was delimited to concern Langtang North LGA, it was delimited to rural and urban locations to give room for wider coverage. On the whole, age, gender, level of education, time (in the mornings, evenings, weekends, and seasons such as wet or dry and Christmas or Easter period), rural and urban areas (as reflected in the three patterns) as indicated were the variations that were determined by this study. Although the occurrence of drug misuse, abuse and use of various types of drugs concerning students in many parts of the world including Langtang North LGA Plateau State where the current study was being conducted was a thing of great concern. According to Adams (1989), greater majority of students in United State of America (USA) have experimented with such drugs as alcohol, antibiotics, tranquilizers, cocaine, LSD and marijuana as well as heroine, morphine, tobacco and other narcotic drugs, which were harmful. Adams and Julien, (1992) reported that one of the primary causes of death among students in the United States was drunk driving accounting for more than 20 per cent of all mortalities. The subjects as reported by Adams (1989) and Adams and Julien above were in the (USA), a developed country that had strict control over prescription as well as illegal drugs, whose students were not supposed to have access to drugs to misuse or abuse. However, when compared to Nigerian situation according to Akpan (2001), there was the evidence that alcohol consumption was not uncommon among secondary school students in Nigeria. Moreover, Okeke (1988) observed that drugs were easily accessed without difficulty in Benue state; and indeed even among secondary school students in Langtang North where illegal drugs were planted and grown, with local beer brewed and sold in homes that were near the schools, the situation may be worse in Langtang North.
Langtang North Local Government Area (LGA) in Plateau state, Nigeria, where the study was carried out is made up of five clans. Most households brew local beer popularly called burukutu in Hausa and Nche in Tarok dialect of Langtang. Of the students in the LGA, observation showed that a good number of them roam the streets during holidays, while some embarked on cycling popularly called “going” and this exposure left them at the mercy of their cliques, friends, or hoodlums. Moreover, parents, community leaders as well as government did little or nothing to check the activities of the students, and the consequence may lead to the misuse, abuse or use various drugs, which can be explained by theories.
The study was anchored on three theories. The theories that the study anchored on were the social learning theory (SLT), theories of reasoned action (TRA) and the diffusion of innovation theory (DIT) respectively. TRA show how most behaviours of social relevance were under volitional (wilful) control. Of the three theories above, the SLT explained and showed how drug misuse and abuse can occur. The SLT was based on the fact that a person can shape the environment as well as the environment shaping the person. One construct of the SLT was self efficacy, which Bandura (1977) considered most important aspect of the self that determines one’s effort to change behaviour. Although the SLT was concerned primarily with observational learning (Wikipedia, 2008), it explains how people acquire and maintain certain behaviour patterns such as the prevalence and patterns of drug misuse and abuse. This means that before one engages on a particular behaviour (drug misuse or abuse) such a person must believe in his ability to perform the behaviour, and he ought to be encouraged by an incentive (social environment) for continuing such behaviour. The social environment, which may include family members, cliques, friends, colleagues, the physical environment, the availability of drugs to be misused and abuse with ease, could influence one’s behaviour towards drug misuse and abuse, which may be the reflection of students behaviour in Langtang North LGA that this study determined. Following from the above, the social environment which influences students may be characterised with various age grades.
Age was another factor that tends to be implicated in drug misuse and abuse by students. Available epidemiological surveys showed that the misuse, abuse and the use of various types of drugs, especially of cannabis and stimulants in western Nigeria involved young adults (Odejide & Sanda, 1976). Moreover, reports on drug experimentation have shown that children as young as 11 years of age have misused, abused and experimented with one drug or another in the north (Ahmed, 1981; Nevadomsky, 1981). Furthermore, the age for cannabis, heroin and cocaine misuse and abuse in Lagos was 16 years and above (Omigbodun & Babalola, 2004). The above studies implicated various age groups in different places; however, the difference in age variations of drug misuse and abuse may be same among students in Langtang North LGA, which this study determined. Although various age groups have been implicated, the ages that have been implicated cannot be devoid of gender.
Gender appeared as a factor that appears to influence drug misuse, abuse and use of various types of drugs. National Survey on Drug Use and Health –NSDUH (2004) in their study found that the lifetime nonmedical use of most specific pain relievers was significantly more prevalent among males than females. They further noted that there was a higher prevalence among males than females in specific pain relievers’ misuse. For instance, the misuse of codeine products was reported by 10.2 per cent of males compared with 7.6 per cent of females. However, NSDUH (2006) reported inhalant misuse and abuse by students aged 12 – 17years and found males and females being equal in the misuse and abuse of such drugs. Although there was inconsistency in the misuse and abuse of drug by students as reported, the actual situation of drug used by gender among students in Langtang North LGA was verified by this study. Although there was inconsistency in the misuse and abuse of drugs by students, this may be due to the level of education of the students.
Level of education also seems to be a factor that was implicated in drug misuse and abuse among students. Surveys of both in and out-of-school students revealed that drug misuse and abuse was a common problem especially for socially acceptable drugs like alcohol and cigarettes. Such studies found that the prevalence rate for ever using alcohol by students were 56 per cent for Ibadan and 51.6 per cent for Abeokuta (Odejide, Ohaeri, Adelekan & Ikuesan, 1987) whereas 12 per cent used alcohol in Ilorin (Abiodun, Adelekan, Ogunremi, Oni & Obanya, 1994), while in Jos, 38.7 per cent reported using alcohol (Obot, Ibanga, Ojiji & Wai, 2001). Although the prevalence of drug misuse and abuse implicated level of education as indicated above, the level of education of students involved in drug misuse and abuse was determined among students in the area of study. Based on the above, students who were implicated in drug misuse, abuse and use of various drugs live in different locations.
One of the variables that seem to influence drug misuse and abuse was location. In a study conducted by Noto, Nappo, Galduroz, Mattei and Carlini (1997) it was observed that the consumption of cocaine including crack was restricted to the south east region whereas psychotropic medication was consumed more in the northern part of the country. Furthermore, Noto et al. Revealed that solvents, followed by marijuana were the most cited drugs misused or abused in the south east region, whereas psychotropic medications was consumed more in the north east of the country by students. This occurrence of drug misuse and abuse in the area may have occurred at certain times specific times.
Another variable that appears to be implicated in the misuse and abuse of drugs by students was time. Omigbodun and Babalola (2004) found that while some students misused and abused up to 5 litres keg of palm wine once a week, smokers smoked 3 sticks of cigarettes per day, whereas those who took cannabis smoked 3 wraps daily. Moreover, Nazarius and Rogers (2005) found that students who misused and abused alcohol did so at least three times per week; according to Dimah and Gire (2005), students drink alcohol daily. The inconsistency in the variations of frequencies in the misuse and abuse of drugs was worrisome and that was determined among students in Langtang North LGA. Based on the above, several variables may account for students to be implicated in drug misuse, abuse and use of various types of drugs.