Extent of drug abuse in schools revealed

The terrifying degree to which drug abuse has become a part of everyday life for hundreds of thousands of British children is revealed today.

Many start as young as 11. By the age of 16 nearly one in ten boys is regularly taking drugs – including heroin and cocaine – with the statistics for girls almost as high, according to a ground-breaking study.

The figures mean that across the country probably 400,000 under-16s are now regular users.

The nationwide survey, taken among 18,000 pupils at 67 schools, is the first to examine how often children use drugs rather than just whether they take them at all.

It paints a frightening picture of the grip the culture exerts on the young – and the explosion in use as they pass through their teenage years.

At the age of 11, out of every thousand boys 12 count themselves as regular users, meaning they take drugs weekly over a period of three months or more.

By the age of 14 the figure is 59 out of every thousand. But by the age of 16 some 88 boys out of every thousand meet the ‘regular user’ test.

While cannabis remains the drug most heavily used there is increasing evidence that even very young pupils are now trying and persisting with the hardest of drugs.

Among 11-year-old users, seven out of every thousand say they have used heroin and 13 in every thousand admit trying cocaine.

The statistics highlight the way drugs are now regarded by many teenagers as integral to their music and dance culture and an automatic part of growing up.

Even the one in ten 16-year-old boys and one in fourteen 16-year-old girls who told researchers they do not take them admitted they expected to use them over the next 12 months.

Where once cannabis was regarded as the preserve of a rebellious minority, it now stands alongside drugs such as Ecstasy as a indispensable entertainment aid.

A recent  survey found that one in four young people in their teens and early 20s routinely drives while under the influence. Nearly one in five believes taking drugs makes them better drivers.

The falling price of drugs has now put them within reach of many children. But those who can’t afford them simply turn to crime.

One recent survey by the charity Drugscope calculated that teenage heroin addicts in provincial towns are now spending £10,000 a year on average on their habits – raised largely by shoplifting, stealing cars, burglary, theft and street robbery.

The latest survey was carried out by the Swansea-based Adolescent Assessment Service, which makes regular studies of the lifestyles, habits and interests of the young.

It was backed by a number of education authorities anxious to get new information to boost their anti-drug programmes.

Researcher Jeremy Gluck said yesterday that it showed that campaigns should target children in the years leading up to their early teens. ‘The critical period for initiation occurs for girls at age 13 and for boys at 14,’ he said.

‘The dramatic increase in usage at the ages of 13 and 14 is a central feature of sub-stance use and preventative work could usefully be focused on the years preceding these age groups.’

He admitted: ‘These findings are a cause for concern.’

The study found that fewer than half the children who admitted using drugs were regarded as having ‘high self-esteem’ against more than three- quarters of non-drug users.

But nearly one in six of the users were recorded as having ‘low self- esteem’ – children who are most vulnerable to failure at school, crime, ill-health and single parenthood.

The evidence suggested that children who first become accustomed to alcohol are also those most likely to graduate to drug-taking.

‘It does appear clear that drug usage is associated with damaging psychological effects,’ Mr Gluck added.

Anti-drug campaigners blamed the scale of habitual use on the weakness of anti-drug education and the popularity of ‘harm reduction’ ideas that say teenagers should be helped to use drugs wisely rather than told to ‘say no’.

Mary Brett of the National Drug Prevention Alliance said the survey was proof that the Government had failed to begin to get to grips with the menace.

She said: ‘It is vital that we start to tell children the truth about drugs, starting with the truth that cannabis is not harmless but a gateway drug that does lead on to other and worse drugs.

‘Children should not just be told to say no. They should be told why – how drugs affect not just your body but your social and economic future.’

Influential recent inquiries – notably a report by Dame Ruth Runciman for the Police Foundation think tank – have recommended relaxing the laws against cannabis possession to avoid criminalising young people.

Newcastle University sociologist Norman Dennis, an expert on drug use among teenagers, said: ‘The scale of use shown here is high and it is going in the wrong direction.

‘The question we have to look at is not just how big it is, but what it was like a few years ago. The answer is that the level of drug abuse was very small not long ago.’

Mr Dennis, who is to publish a major study of drug abuse later this year, added: ‘This level of drug abuse is inviting disaster for children.

‘We are not doing anything to reduce it, and the more children are given the message that using drugs is acceptable the more they will do so.

‘America managed to cut drug abuse in the 1980s with the “just say no” campaign but nothing like that has been tried here.’


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Teenage Drug Abuse and how They Affect Us

Early this year daily mail news UK, published a story of a 21-year-old student, Charles Mann who stabbed his mother 11 times and cut off his own penis in drug-induced fit of violence, a worrisome statistic by Daily Times Newspaper
Nigerian, shows that one in every three secondary school students consumes alcohol. Another 8.3% smoke cigarettes while almost one in every ten (9.1%) chew Miraa. About 3% smoke bhang and use hard drugs like heroin, cocaine,
mandrax and tranquilizers.

Being a teenager is often a confusing, challenging time, which can make teens vulnerable to falling into a destructive pattern of drug use. While most teens probably see their drug use as a casual way to have fun, there are negative effects from the use of alcohol or other drugs. Even if adolescent drug use does not necessarily lead to adult drug abuse, there are still risks and consequences of adolescent drug use.

These negative effects usually include a drop in academic performance or interest, and strained relationships with family or friends.

Drug use can also change friendships as teens begin to associate more with fellow drug users, who encourage and support one another’s drug use.

Nevertheless, It is very imperative that teens be informed of the extreme dangers that are involved in the use of ANY type of illegal or legal drug .Some teens believe drugs will help them think better, be more popular, stay more active, or become a better athlete. Others are simply curious and figure one try won’t hurt. Others want to fit in. Many teens use drugs to gain attention from their parents or because they are depressed or think drugs will help them escape their problems. The truth is, drugs don’t solve problems. Drugs simply hide feelings and problems.

When a drug wears off, the feelings and problems remain – or become worse. Drugs can ruin every aspect of a person’s life.

Drugs are chemicals or substances that change the way our bodies work. When you put them into your body (often by swallowing, inhaling, or injecting them), drugs find their way into your bloodstream and are transported to parts of your body, such as your brain. In the brain, drugs may intensify or dull your senses, alter your sense of alertness, and sometimes decrease physical pain. A drug may be helpful or harmful. The effects of drugs can vary depending upon the kind of drug taken, how much is taken, how often it is used, how quickly it gets to the brain, and what other drugs, food, or substances are taken at the same time.

Many substances can harm your body and your brain. Drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, taking illegal drugs, and sniffing glue can all cause serious damage to the human body. Some drugs severely impair a person’s ability to make healthy choices and decisions. Teens who are involved in drugs are more likely to get involved in dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence, having unprotected sex, stealing and going violent.

Recent happening have shown widespread drug use among adolescents and young adults, thus drawing global
attention to this problem. According to my finding there is however a rarity of data on drug uses among youths in Nigeria. To tackle this mayhem peer counseling, community awareness and working with adults who have  adolescents at home would go a long way towards reducing drug use at community and household level, particularly among secondary school students.

Written by


Communications specialist

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Some facts on drug abuse and its effects

  • Drugs have the ability to affect your mood. They can arose certain emotions and can also diminish others
  • The changes in your behaviour is the result of changes in your brain caused by the drugs as drugs interfere with the chemicals in your brain
  • Mental health problems include anxiety, mood swings, depression, aggression and sleeping problems
  • Psychoactive drugs can cause delusions
  • They can also affect your sense of personal identity and reality
  • Schizophrenia and asthma are very common health problems
  • Overuse can also lead to heart attacks and can damage the cartilage of your nose, if inhaled
  • Injection can damage your veins and body tissues
  • Some drugs have the power to overstimulate your heart and nervous system. However, some can be linked
    with memory problems.


Image Source: english.dcbooks.com


More Nigerian youths are abusing psychoactive substances and this has grave dangers on the society at large.
This is according to Prof. Isidore Obot of the Department of Psychology, University of Uyo, who said the most abused substances are alcohol, cannabis (Indian hemp), tobacco, cocaine, heroin and others.

According to Prof Obot, the problems associated with psychoactive substances (alcohol and other drugs) are many and have been known for a long time, saying that as far back as 1844, the Emir of Nupe, seeking protection for his people against imported rum that was consumed then, said it had “ruined my people” and “has made them become mad”.

Prof Obot said the use of psychoactive substances brings great risks to both the user and the people around him. Analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that in 2004, there were 271,190 alcoholic- attributable net deaths, or 2.3 per cent of all deaths. In the same year, alcohol also accounted for 7,787,426 alcoholic-attributable disability adjusted life years.

On the correlation between alcohol consumption and infectious diseases, the Professor of Psychology said in 2007, an estimated 9.3 million new tuberculosis cases were recorded worldwide. “While most of the cases were in Asia, Africa accounted for 79 per cent of cases reported among HIV infected persons with Sub-Saharan Africa remaining the most affected region as far back as 2008.”

The illicit drugs abused in Nigeria are cocaine, heroin and they are always injected. Studies have shown that smoking cannabis at a young age may have effects on the brain and behaviour and the abuser will in turn be deleterious to normal cognitive and emotional development.

Expert Raises Alarm On Drug Abuse

EXPERIMENTAL curiosity, peer influence, lack of parental supervision and availability of drugs, among others have been identified as causes of the growing use of drug abuse in the country’s tertiary institutions.

Dr. Adedokun Adedeji, said Nigeria is rated the world’s 8th highest consumer of Indian hemp/cannabis.   He noted that drug abuse is now prevalent more than ever among the youths, who sees its usage as cool and are even quick to boast of their prowess in taking stimulants.

According to him, from the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) records about 80 per cent of substance abuse, trade and use in the country is Cannabis. It was estimated that over three million bottles of Benylin with Codeine syrup are being consumed in both Kano and Jigawa States, due to the scarcity of cocaine.

“The South-East zone from the NDLEA records has the highest of drug traffickers in the country. According to 2013 survey, 90 per cent of abusers of drugs and substance are teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 29 years old” he said.

While noting that though the use of illicit drug is not a new trend, he lamented that it is growing at an alarming rate
with ‘more leaders of tomorrow’ embracing drug abuse for various reasons. “Gone are the days when drug use was regarded as stigma, with users generally hiding in their closets to indulge in the act. Today, the story has changed.

“Even, our universities, particularly the Christian ones, are not spared as investigations have revealed that more
students in our higher institutions are fast joining the drug train, smoking away their future for the pleasure of getting high.”

Adedeji, who listed substances of abuse as hemp, cannabis, marijuana, skunk, codeine, rohypnol, cocaine, tramadol, alcohol and combination drugs, said signs and symptoms of the menace include possession of drug paraphernalia like foil, rolling, possession of actual drugs, seeds or leaves and odour of drug, smell of incense, use of strong perfumes and strong menthol sweets to obscure smell.

Speaking on the effect, he said an addicted person may show a decline in academic performance, frequently fail to attend classes, lost of interest in school work and display of weakened motor coordination, poor health and lack of interest in old friendships.

“The parents have important roles to play to avert this problem. They must establish and nurture good relationship with their children, lead by example, allocate time to spend with family, allow discussion before decisions are taken, seek knowledge about contemporary issues affecting young people, seek professional help when necessary and taking their responsibilities more seriously,” he stated.

He said the aspects of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration have been recognised as key elements in the global strategy to reduce drug use and demand, which is part of the seminar, adding that all key players, private individuals and organisations should fill the gap where government has not reached.

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