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The study was designed to determine prevalence and patterns of Psychoactive Substance use
among Senior Secondary School Students in Dala Local Government Area (LGA), Kano
State Nigeria. The study adopted a cross sectional descriptive survey design. Simple random
sampling procedure was used to select two Secondary Schools out of the ten Government
Senior Secondary School in Dala LGA, of Kano State. Both Schools have a combined
population of 2293 students made up 1202 boys and 1096 girls. The two Schools sample
were Government Secondary School Kurna Asabe for boys and Government Senior
Secondary School Kuka bulukiya for girls. The instrument for Data collection was a WHO
Youth Drug Survey (WHOYDSQ) adapted questionnaire. The reliability of the instrument
was established using a test re-test and computed using Pearson Moment Correlation.
Coefficient of 0.82 was obtained. Data generated was subjected to descriptive statistics and
analysed using Chi-square. The prevalence of psychoactive substance use among
Government Senior Secondary School in Dala LGA, of Kano State shows that majority
(91.1%) of the respondents have been using psychoactive substances. The commonest
substances used were kola nut (87.4%), tobacco (15%) and cannabis (5.5%). more than half
of the users of each of the substances take it occasionally, using them on one to five days in a
month except kolanut taken on twenty or more days in a month. They include male (52.9%),
female (47.1%). Majority (68.1%) of the respondents were between 18-20 years. Most of the
respondents who use psychoactive substances were introduced by their friends (60.6%),
family (27.6%) and by nobody (5.7%). Most (27.9%) first use kolanut at the age less than 10
years, alcoholic beverages at the age of 11-12years (25.6%) while others like tobacco,
cannabis at 19-and above years (38.3%). Major reasons for using psychoactive substance
include to be sociable (25.4%) and for enjoyment (24.4%). There was significant difference
(p < 0.05) between Males and females in psychoactive substance use. The pattern of use is
dependent on the type of psychoactive substances (p < 0.05). Also the psychoactive
substances use based on lifetime use is dependent on the age at first use (p < 0.05). In
conclusion the prevalence of substance abuse among Senior Secondary School students is
high as such Government, Parents and Teachers needs to joint hands and address the
Background to the Study
Psychoactive Substance use and dependence cause a significant burden to the individuals and
societies throughout the world. The World Health Report (2010) indicated that 8.9% of the
total burden of disease comes from the use of psychoactive substances. The report showed
that tobacco accounted for 4.1%, alcohol 4%, and illicit drugs 0.8% of the burden of disease
in 2010. Much of the burden attributable to substance use and dependence is the result of a
wide variety of health and social problems. Data from the (World Health Organization, 2011)
show large-scale seizures of cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants in
different parts of the world. Availability of cocaine, heroin and cannabis depends on the level
of cultivation in source countries and on the success or failure of trafficking organizations.
However, even with increased levels of law enforcement activities, there always seems to be
enough available to users. According to (UNODC, 2011) estimates show that about 200
million people make illicit use of one type of illicit substance or another.
Psychoactive substance use is a social problem that has spread and increased rapidly in
educational institutions especially among secondary school students (Neeraja, 2011). This
social problem is considered an issue of serious concern as it adversely affects the lives and
performance of students involved as well as the harmonious functioning of the entire
structure of the society. Use of psychoactive drugs and other associated problems are inimical
to the survival and effective functioning of human societies. A significant number of
untimely deaths and accidents have been linked to the activities of persons under the
influence of one psychoactive drug or the other (Shelly, 2010).
Drug abuse is viewed by different authorities in various forms. Neeraja (2011) defined
substance abuse as the dependence on a drug or other chemical substances leading to the
effect that are detrimental to the individual’s physical and mental health or the welfare of
others. According to Smelzer, Bare, Hinkle, and Cheever (2008) substance abuse is a
maladaptive pattern of drug use that causes physical and emotional harm with the potential
for disruption of daily life. From these definitions, it can be deduced that substance abuse is
the misuse of one or more drugs which could be prescribed by a health practitioner with the
intention to alter the way one feels, thinks or behaves and it is associated with consequences
which include physical and emotional harm to the person.
The African Symposium (2010) viewed substance abuse as the improper use or application of
drugs by a person without proper knowledge of the drugs and without due prescription from a
qualified medical practitioner. This definition focuses on psychoactive drugs. All drugs can
be abused to an extent that it turns into addiction when the drug user is unable to stop the use
of the drugs despite the harmful effects on the user’s social, personal and economic lives. The
problem of substance abuse is so grave that though it was originally conceived as the problem
of a ‘select few’, it has extended beyond the usual characteristics of abusers being males,
adults and urban based people, to now include females, youngsters and rural dwellers (Rocha,
2009). These abusers erroneously believe that drugs enhance their performance, put them in
good mood etc. The accompanying problems of this act constitute a major threat to the wellbeing
of the society (Ajala, 2009).
The youths in Nigeria like many countries of the world are increasingly developing addiction
to psychoactive substances. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA, 2011)
collected drugs use and abuse data from schools, records of patients admitted at mental health
institutions for drug problems and interview of persons arrested for drug offences. The result
showed that youths constitute the high risk group for drug trafficking and abuse. Friends and
school mates account for about 90% of the source of influence of the use and abuse of
various psychoactive substances. In Nigeria, alcohol and cigarette are legal substances but,
the two have been discovered to cause physical damage to human bodies. It has been reported
that smoking tobacco causes 90.0% of lung cancer, 30.0% of all cancers, and 80.0% of other
chronic lung diseases (Sale 2008). Apart from these health implications, according to Stephen
(2010), alcohol and cigarette are said to be “gateway drugs” to other more potent
psychoactive drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine.
The future of any community, society, state or nation is tied to the character of the adolescent
in that particular place, area or locality. It is also said that “The youth are the leaders of
tomorrow”. Therefore responsible youth in the society indicates responsible and brighter
future of that society and also the reverse is the case.
In our society people are known to have had problems that had made them to adopt various
measures to cope with such problems and live successfully within the confines of societal
normative values. While some people take solace in lawful ways others resort to unlawful
and unhealthy measures such as the use of drugs or psychoactive substances to the extent of
abusing them, hence resulting in addiction. According to Edum (2006) the adolescent in our
society are not left out in this, as they are either influenced by peer group while others do so
because of the easy availability of the abused substances, others also watch on television and
films and some read in books and so try to experiment to experience the effects. The effects
of specific psychoactive substance vary depending on their mechanism of action, the amount
consumed and the history of the user among other factors.
An ugly fact that is with us in the recent time is road traffic accident related to psychoactive
substance use as well as increased crime rate in Nigeria, though a number of measures are put
in place to check this menace. This includes the establishment of the National Drug Law

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