By Revival Ojedapo.
One of the most negative impact of drug abuse is the carefree attitude it breeds in the victim. Victim? Yes, it seems only appropriate to use the word considering the helplessness of many, caught in the web of drug addiction. The time spent under its influence is either wasted, or worse, a retrogression to a state of mere hopelessness.
An article on mayoclinic website describes drug addiction (or substance use disorder) as “a disease that affects a person’s brain and behaviour”. Several symptoms associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as memory loss, forgetfulness, apathy, anxiety, agitation, loss of inhibition, mood changes and many others, are common traits of an addict. It could become a critical condition, requiring serious medical attention. But, even in the best of cases, drug addiction would only result to regret. Regret for wasted time, and wasted opportunities.
Drug abuse is encouraged, to a very large extent, in the present day society. You need only watch a movie or music video to see the alluring representation of addictive substances in the media. Equally shameful is the proliferation of these substances, such that children are easily exposed to it. A research by UNODC in 2018 reports an estimated 14.4 percent of the population in Nigeria, or 14.3 million people between the age of 15 and 64 had used illicit drugs, excluding alcohol and tobacco. The numbers could have well risen since the past couple of years.
The societal risks and consequences of drug abuse are common knowledge; so common that it seems to have lost the deterrence effect it is supposed to have. So, instead of finding fewer people indulging the act, you see more and more people drawn to it, especially the youths. There’s no surprise there; addictions tend to be overbearing regardless the damage involved. It is expected that the government would be offer a proactive approach to the situation, but it sure looks like a tough nut to crack.
Many youths fall behind in their academics; several others underperform in their works; some have missed irredeemable opportunities; while many others are just stuck. Time seems to stand still when one is under the influence of drugs, but it is only an illusion, encouraged and sustained by continuing use of such drugs. In reality, time is passing them by, along with bountiful opportunities. And it is usually too late before one realizes what has been missed, if one is lucky to retain sanity.
But, like every other addiction, drug abuse can also be cured. Even better, it could be prevented, when serious contemplations are made about the consequences. The topic should be broached by respected members of the public, in the churches, the mosques, and amidst other followings. It should be broached in schools and other institutions of learning. Help should be sought, and help should be rendered. It is important to share one’s own experience in the effort to help others. For there are many out there who need the courage to break free.
PS: This article was written by a former addict. Musing over wasted time and opportunities has encouraged me to share my story (and I’m working on this). One thing that helped me along the path of recovery is confiding in people who really care about my well being, and future. Also, I am sustained by a shared faith. The faith in Jesus Christ. For, it is the strong will of a united body, with a clear vision of the future.