Heart of Arts

Impact Of Drug Abuse on Students and Its Psycho-Social Implications Among Nigerians

Dr. Suleiman T. Folorunsho

Head, Clinical Psychology
Lagos University Teaching Hospital,
Idi-Araba, Lagos.



Drug abuse or dependence is defined as a state of psychological or physical dependence on a drug, following the administration of the drug on a periodic, continuous basis (WHO 2015). Drug abuse constitutes the use of any substance under international control, outside therapeutic indications, at an excessive dose level, or over an unjustified period (Tupper, 2012).

People who indulge in drug abuse cannot be regarded as healthy and developed, since the abusers lose their potential to this activity. The consequences of drug abuse are multifarious and range from untimely death, suicides, road accidents, violent crimes, laziness, mediocrity, and subsequent impoverishment that most of the time leads to a broken home, dreams are scattered, potential power is wasted as the abusers struggle to sustain the habit, and subsequently, they become burdens to themselves, their families, and society at large. Unfortunately, young people who are supposed to shoulder Nigeria’s future development in terms of socio-economic aspects are constant promoters of this sub-culture and anti-social activities of drug abuse.

Historically, drug abuse in Nigeria dates back to the pre-colonial era, when men moved from being gardeners to farmers. Among the first crops, cultivating 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 Burma. After the war, they return with concealed packets of cannabis souvenirs. It was with this introduction that illegal cultivation of cannabis started across the country.


Types of Drug commonly abused in Nigeria

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamine
  • Marijuana
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Nicotine
  • Opiates
  • Sedatives, hypnotics or anti-anxiety drugs
  • Heroine


When do drugs become harmful to us as students?

  • Disability in the area of functioning
  • Failure to meet responsibilities
  • Health issues like mental illness
  • Impaired control/judgement
  • Risky use of the drug
  • Social issue (i.e., poor interpersonal relationships).
  • Poor academic performance
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Irresponsible behaviour


Substance use disorder, as reported in DSM-5-TR 2022

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition) recognizes substance-related disorders resulting from the use of 10 separate drugs, which include the following:

  • Alcohol Caffeine Cannabis Hallucinogens Inhalants Opioids Sedative
  • Hypnotics or anxiolytics
  • Stimulants include amphetamine, Cocaine and other stimulants, as well as tobacco.



  • Drop in grades and academic
  • Inability to concentrate in class or retain
  • Decrease performance on tasks that require executive
  • Skipping or other related
  • Dropping out of school
  • Risky behaviour (i.e., unsafe sex as a result of drug use).
  • Increased likelihood of developing substance use
  • Inability to experience peace without the use of drugs
  • Poor planning and judgement, plus the inability to think about the consequences of their
  • Find it difficult to control their




  • Peer pressure
  • Social media influence
  • Influence of culture
  • The desire to be oneself
  • Mental health problems such as depression and large developmental
  • Poor socioeconomic status of parents
  • Family problem
  • Poor academic performance
  • Competition
  • Low self-esteem
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • The need for energy to read/work for longer hours
  • Availability of the drugs
  • Emotional and psychological stresses
  • Experimentation/Curiosity
  • Permissive attitude towards drugs
  • Skills Deficit
  • Delinquent/conduct disorder
  • Dropout/Expulsion/Suspension from school
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Physical/Emotional Abuse
  • Marital discord/Divorce



  • Sudden change in behaviour
  • Mood swings such as irritability or subtle withdrawal from family members
  • Careless about personal growth such as poor personal hygiene
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other significant things in their lives
  • Insomnia, such as sleep problems
  • Sniffle or running nose
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Deteriorating of physical appearance
  • Unusual smells on breath or clothing
  • Tremors, slurred speech and impaired coordination
  • Marks on the skin, such as injection spot



  • It increases the number of political thuggery
  • It increases the number of insurgencies and unrest because 95% of the insurgents are drug addicts
  • It increases the number of insane people in society
  • It increases the number of criminal offences like robbery, kidnapping and boundary
  • It may lead to poor interpersonal relationships among members of the family and society at large
  • Loss of social control
  • Draining of family resources
  • Shrinking from responsibility
  • Sickness and death



  • Loss of Potential manpower, low productivity and an unfavourable environment for the investors
  • The government spends more money on security settlements of IDP created as a result of drug abuse instead of using funds to provide social amenities
  • It tarnishes the image of the country
  • It encourages corruption among Nigerians
  • It encourages looters to loot public funds
  • It causes political unrest in the country
  • It is, therefore, important to note that before any evil act of armed robbery, insurgency, crimes, banditry, herdsmen clash and political unrest are all caused by drug abuse and most of the looters loot public funds



  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Mental confusion and brain damage
  • Difficulty in decision-making and attention span
  • Liver diseases, lung diseases
  • Poor memory
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • It weakens the immune system
  • Abnormal heart rates and blood vessel infections from injected drugs
  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Impaired judgment
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia



  • Establishments of family education on drug abuse
  • Establishment of counselling centres for drug control in schools & society at large
  • Designing curricula on Drug Education at all levels of education
  • Promote effective studying habits among students
  • Drug awareness campaigns must be intensified among the student population
  • Parents should stop the use of drugs indiscriminately in the presence of their children
  • Psychologists should assist students in redirecting their attention from drug use to more productive activities in schools and society at large.
  • Psychologists should create awareness on radio, television and other social media about the danger of drug abuse among Nigerian students and society at large.
  • Employment Opportunity
  • The government should provide basic needs to the populace, such as social infrastructure
  • Fighting corruption by the government of the day
  • Creating awareness in the community of the dangers of drug abuse
  • Provision of alternatives to drug abuse like recreational activities
  • Organizing teachings, seminars, workshops, etc to educate students on the dangers of drug abuse
  • Reduction in the sales of drugs in society
  • Establish vigilante groups that will monitor the sales of drugs and punish offenders
  • Provide homes for homeless youths, orphans, and widows who have problems with substance use.
  • Increase the number of security personnel in NDLEA and provide necessary facilities with adequate
  • NGOs should support the war against drug abuse in the
  • Participation in religious organizations will go a long way toward reducing drug abuse in society
  • Stringent punishment for sellers and buyers of all forms of substances
  • Parents should care for their children’s needs, such as physical, and psychological, with adequate supervision
  • Provision of treatment and rehabilitation centres across the country for the affected students
  • Training of personnel that will care for the affected students, like psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, social workers, and other mental health-related workers.



  • Coleman FE (2010), Drug Abuse Students in Tertiary Institutions: the Case of Federal University of Technology, Minna, Journal of Research in National Development, 8 (1)
  • Ralphs and Gray (2018): New Psychoactive New Services Problems Challenges 25 (4) 301-312.
  • World Health Organization Substance abuse http://www.who.in/topic/substance abuse/en/ Accessed June 19, 2023.

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