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History Of Drug Abuse In Nigeria

Society that is made up of a lot of young folks who engage in drug abuse cannot be considered a healthy or strong society. This is because abusers often tend to lose their abilities and potentialities when hooked on these activities.

The consequences of drug abuse are numerous, ranging from violent crimes to untimely deaths. Hope is lost, dreams are shattered, homes are broken and manpower is wasted. Drug abuse can, therefore, be described as acts of self-medication, under or overdosage, and excessive use which then leads to physical and psychological dependence.


HIstory Of Drug Abuse In Nigeria 

The history of drug abuse in Nigeria dates back to the pre-colonization era when man settled from being a gatherer to a farmer. Among the first crops, he cultivated included intoxicants such as wine, strong tobacco and other hard substances.

Illicit drugs as we know them today are not of Nigerian origin, they were introduced by World War II veterans who fought in Malaysia and Bruma. After the war, they returned with concealed packets of cannabis as souvenirs. After its introduction, there was an irregular and illegal cultivation of cannabis as a farm produce. Research shows that between the 60s and 70s, drug trafficking was low because it was mostly cannabis that was cultivated.

History Of Drug Abuse In Nigeria
History Of Drug Abuse In Nigeria

However, as time went on, the 1980s arrived and so also did drugs like Cocaine, Heroin, and Hallucinogens find their way into the country. The government reacted by establishing the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to check the excesses of drug production, circulation, distribution, and consumption.

Which Age Group Is Drug Abuse Prevalent? 

Among the older and the young generation, it is the latter that access these drugs mostly through illicit channels despite government regulations. Some of these ill-behaved youths usually end up in rehabilitation centers and psychiatric hospitals. Studies have shown that most drug abusers started using from their young age. As they grow older and seek more ways to get “high”, they eventually go into hard drugs.

In Nigeria, lifetime consumption of Cannabis for the population is estimated at 10.8%, followed by substances like amphetamine-type stimulants 10.6%, Heroin 1.6% and Cocaine 1.4% in both urban and rural areas. Statistics also show that drug abuse is common in males 94.2% than females 5.8% and the age of first use is between 10 to 29 years.

A nationwide study of high school children revealed that 65% used drugs to have a good time with their friends, 54% wanted to know what it felt like, 20 to 40 % used it to change their moods, feel good, relieve tension and overcome problems.



It is impossible to pinpoint a specific factor that is solely responsible for the abuse of drugs but below are some causes of young people vulnerability to drugs;

Curiosity and the need to know the effect of a particular drug:

The curiosity to find out unknown facts about a particular drug eventually lead youths to drug abuse. The first experience of drug use, tend to produce an arousal state of pleasure and happiness which makes them want to continue.


So many young people live in deprived communities which suffer from high unemployment, low-quality housing and lack of infrastructure. Drug use prospers in such communities as an alternative economy by criminal groups. In addition to the use of drugs to relieve the stress and boredom of living in such communities, young people with no job prospect eventually turn to small-scale drugs sale for its financial advantages.

Promotion and easy accessibility:

Despite legislation, young people have no problems getting alcohol and tobacco from a number of retail outlets. Breweries set up pubs with young people in mind by bringing in music, games and so on. While through sponsorship and other marketing strategies, the general acceptance of this drug is maintained.

Peer group influence:

Peer pressure plays a big role in influencing many young people’s decision to use drugs. This is because peer pressure is a part of teenage life. One may not enjoy the company of others unless he accepts their ways.


The evidence of drug use among the young suggests that the experience of substance use is often pleasurable rather than damaging. So maybe the reason why young people do drugs is that they enjoy themselves.

Lack of parental supervision:

Many parents tend to have a hands-off approach in raising their children due to personal or work commitments. Some parents hardly interact with family members while others pressurize their children to pass exams and do better academically. These problems tend to increase drug use among these children.

Family background:

Children from broken homes, illegitimate relationships, having alcoholic parents or parents who involve in illegal activities tend to be caught up in drug abuse.


Drug abuse has grown to become a way of life in many cultures and its effect cut across society or race. No one is born an abuser but human activities through learning, interaction and the need to know made people develop this habit. To the abuser, the effect can be psychological, entering the society and affecting all social and economic productive endeavors. Drug abuse has become a means to an end, and it calls for the government and the society at large to join hands and collaborate to curb the menace.


  • The government should focus its policies on creating jobs, rendering social services and above all, these policies should be implementable.
  • Moral values should be inculcated in young children by their families, communities and the society at large.
  • The film and music industry should ensure censoring of crime-related scenes.
  • Government institutions like the NDLEA and NAFDAC should be empowered to be able to deal with drug barons and their traffickers.


Critical analysis was made on what drug abuse is, how it emanated, age group is most prevalent, history and precept of drug abuse, effect of drug abuse and also how to curb the menace of drug abuse these among other subheadings, it is of focal importance to know drug abuse has eaten deep into the flesh and bone of our present country which invariably ha a social-economic effect on the state of the country and others.


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