Foremost Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) at the Weekend embarked on school-to-school sensitization/educational programmes on dangers of hard drugs in South East of Nigeria just as the Rights group found out that some of the Students are not aware of the negative implications of engaging in hard drug habits.

A team of officials of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA led by Barrister Izuagba Chidinma Onyekachi were at the Owerri City Secondary School Wetheral Road Owerri, the Imo State Capital even as another team headed by the South East Focal Person for HURIWA Miss. Obilor Gracecliffs EbubeChukwu headed to Ndiegoro Community Secondary School Ulasi Road Aba, Abia State South East of Nigeria whereby hundreds of students enthusiastically participated in the programme just as the students requested that HURIWA sets up a Students club to campaign against Hard drugs.

At those lectures, the Students were told thus: “Let us talk about the Hard Drugs habit, Drug Abuse, and the implications they have for your future as a student. Doing drugs is the worst thing that can happen to any student. Some drugs may not be bad in themselves if properly used. It is the abuse, especially the abuse of hard drugs or even alcohol that can ruin the life and future of any student. More importantly, you shall learn how to avoid getting hooked on any drug, and what you can do if you indulge in drug habits already.

We are here to prove to you how your life and future can be taken away before your very eyes by hard drug habits. If you pay attention just for a few minutes you will learn what drug is, what hard drugs are, what drug and substance abuse and addiction is, drug dependence, and how they develop in the individual regardless of age.

You may not know, but a child can be born with drug addiction for the reason that the mother was a drug addict while pregnant. Hard drug habit is that bad and that serious. Drug abuse can have many short- and long-term negative effects including physical and mental health problems, legal consequences, and impairment in many areas of a person’s life, from school to work and interpersonal functioning and physical wellbeing.

HURIWA has taken up drug education among students because young people, particularly students, are faced with many influences to use both licit and illicit drugs. HURIWA believes that drug education can play a counterbalancing role in shaping a normative culture of safety, moderation, and informed decision-making. The knowledge they say is power.

Drugs change how the brain is wired and people with a drug use disorder continue using despite the harm caused to their health, relationships, and careers. Drug use affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This part of your brain gives you the power to think, plan, solve problems, make decisions, and utilize self-control over impulses. This part of your brain is the last part of the brain to mature, making teens most vulnerable. The student population is in danger and is here to help you.

There are two main types of substance use disorders: alcohol use disorder and drug use disorder. Some people abuse both substances, while others are addicted to one or the other.

People with alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, exhibit compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over how much alcohol they consume, and experience withdrawal symptoms when they are not drinking. Binge drinking (consuming a high amount of alcohol in a single day) and heavy drinking (consuming high amounts of alcohol several times per month) are two types of problem drinking that often lead to alcohol addiction.

Also referred to as a drug addiction, drug use disorder can include illegal drugs, prescription medications, or a combination. Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, steroids, and inhalants are all highly addictive and can lead to a substance use disorder very quickly.

Personality traits such as impulsive behavior, a desire to seek sensation, and difficulty delaying gratification can contribute to an addiction. This category of students is particularly vulnerable and needs help.

Students free of hard drug habits can influence others to avoid getting involved in drugs by being good role models and staying drug-free yourself. Such students shall be HURIWA DRUG EDUCATION AMBASSADORS and we have plans to set them up as School Clubs to help others understand the negative consequences of using drugs.

Students beware!

  1. Drug and Hard Drugs

Let us begin by understanding what drugs are before delving into the understanding of hard drug habits and their consequences. The drug is any substance (other than food) that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat, or relieve symptoms of a disease or abnormal condition.

A hard or soft drug is as per classification from country to country but generally, a hard drug is a psychotropic or psychoactive substance that acts on both the brain and body; for example heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, and GHB.

  1. Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is the use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used, or in excessive amounts. Drug abuse is known to lead to social, physical, emotional, and job-related problems.

The World Health Organisation, WHO, also describes substance abuse as the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.

  1. Drugs often abused in Nigeria

Heroin, Crystal methamphetamine (what is called Nkpurumiri in the Eastern part of Nigeria), Cocaine and crack, Opioids, Ecstasy, Ketamine, Hallucinogens, such as LSD, Cannabis products (hash and marijuana), and Central Nervous System Depressants (Benzos), amphetamine-type stimulants and inhalants and solvents such as glue

• Note also that even some beneficial soft drugs can create the same effects as hard drugs when deliberately abused as we see in the case of cough syrups and even sleeping pills and sedatives such as Valium and Seresta.

  1. Effects of Hard Drugs on Students

Generally speaking, Drugs affect how the brain and the rest of the body work and cause changes in mood, awareness, thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Going by this general effect, hard drugs can affect reality and our perception (how we see things).

Drugs affect a part of the brain known as the limbic system. This is the area responsible for processing our emotions. Drug-related changes in this area can cause depressed mood, mood swings, emotional outbursts, and persistent irritability. This is what usually leads to quarrels and fights among people abusing drugs and substances, especially among younger and immature folks.

The importance of drug and alcohol prevention cannot be overemphasized. The harms associated with drugs and alcohol, including accidents, injury, and violence, particularly among students. Other side effects of hard drug habit and addiction may also include increased strain on the liver, which puts the person at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure. Seizures, stroke, mental confusion, brain damage, and lung disease. For a student, there are also big problems with memory, attention, and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult. For a student, this can mean the end of her academic pursuit, and ultimately dropping out of school may result from the consequence of not being able to cope with the academic requirements.

Worse still, drug abusers are a high suicide risk. Drug users are at risk for suicide because most drugs are depressants and amplify negative emotions such as bizarre and suicidal ideations. The depressing effects of these drugs often lead to poor judgment and depression. Hard drugs are super destroyers and students must understand this fact and run away from drugs. As students, you are mostly adolescents. What that means is you are still mentally and physically growing but research has proved that Drugs and alcohol abuse can also interfere with the developing adolescent brain permanently and negatively.

Each drug causes different physical reactions, depending on the type of drug. Some will make you feel more awake, alert, and energetic. Others will give you a calm, relaxed feeling.

However, hard drugs alter perceptions and can cause delusions and hallucinations (seeing or hearing what is not out there.) Drug users see dangerous things and dangerous situations differently. These situations can be altered by hard drugs. For example, over-speeding or confronting somebody holding a gun or a dangerous weapon may no longer appear as a danger to one under the influence of hard drugs.

  1. Characteristics of Risk for Drug Addiction

If you have touched any drug including alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana you are at risk of addiction if you are experiencing the following:

1: The numero uno (no1) red flag indicating you are heading to addiction, if you are not addicted already is: Inability to stop despite the negative effect on your health and social well-being.

2: If you are preoccupied with substance use and prioritize it over daily needs such as food. This is called drug use dependence.

3: If it has changed your normal behaviour. This change can be seen in the ways you talk and act and reliance on the drug to keep acting the same way maybe because it makes you feel high, bold, and more sociable.

4: If your use of the drug or substance is increasing and you are craving it.

6: If experiencing withdrawal symptoms like irritability and itching.

  1. Behavioral Signs of Drug Abuse

If you see these signs in people using any drugs, then drug abuse is very likely:

• Increased aggression or irritability and Changes in attitude/personality

• Lethargy and Depression

• Sudden changes in a social network and Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities

• Involvement in criminal activity like stealing.

  1. How You Can Avoid Getting Involved in Hard Drugs Habit

There are ways a student can say no to drugs:

  1. Make an excuse to students trying to invite you.
  2. Use a little humor to avoid bad blood.
  3. Change the subject to something more productive.
  4. Act like you’re too busy
  5. Explain the dangers of drugs and alcohol
  6. Keep saying no to the suggestions and insist you do not have to use drugs to be a big boy or a big girl.
  7. Students Say No To Drug… Use these Slogans

• Choose Life, not Drugs.

• Don’t do drugs, and don’t be a slave to chemicals.

• Drugs are not cool! Just say no.

• Drugs are not the answer.

• Drugs? Say No To Drugs?

• Just say no to drugs.

• Just say no!

• Keep calm & say no to drugs.

Write your favorite slogans out and paste them on your bedside lockers, classrooms, and everywhere!

  1. Celebrities Who Died From Drug Addiction In Nigeria And Outside Nigeria

Here are some well-known celebrity addicts, who died as a result, truncating great careers:

In Nigeria, Majek Fashek was the nation’s greatest music icon in the 90s. His career was destroyed by drug addiction and he died as a result as well.

Michael Jackson: Eerily similar to Elvis, Jackson – known as the “king of pop” – was addicted to barbiturates. In taking large doses of Propofol for insomnia, Jackson overdosed and died in 2009.

Whitney Houston: This extremely talented singer struggled with cocaine and crack addiction. Unfortunately, she died in 2012 as a result of drowning in her hotel bathtub from complications of cocaine and heart disease.

Marilyn Monroe: This legendary movie star died of an overdose of barbiturates in 1962.

Judy Garland: A revered star of stage and screen, Garland died tragically as a result of a barbiturate overdose at the young age of 47.

Elvis Presley: Known as the “king of rock and roll,” Elvis died of an overdose in 1977.

Adolph Hitler: Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and a methamphetamine addict who dragged the world into Second World War II in which millions died. He took his own life also after an overdose of the drugs.

Do you want to end like them? God forbid! Just say no to drugs.

  1. How Teachers Can Prevent Drug Abuse Among Students

Teachers here should please consider strategies to prevent student drug abuse:

  1. Know your student’s activities. Pay attention to your student’s whereabouts
  2. Establish rules and consequences
  3. Know your student’s friends and counsel accordingly
  4. Keep track of prescription drugs the student is taking
  5. Provide support
  6. Set a good example yourself. If you are a drug user or abuser yourself, you cannot help any student avoid or stop drug abuse.

Teachers, let us introduce Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Day every semester. This can be adopted by schools in Nigeria and possibly by ministries of education. Let us start small. Let each school set aside a day to talk about drug habits and their devastating consequences. HURIWA will supply the professionals to talk to students.

  1. Conclusion

The menace of drug abuse and misuse is seriously threatening the student and youth population. For instance, there is evidence that drug misuse reduces the academic performance of students. This happens through a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state and damaged immune systems. There are also increases in susceptibility to sexual indiscretions and infection (e.g., hepatitis, HIV, AIDS, etc.), psychotic behaviours, and serious cardiovascular conditions, including heart attacks and collapsed veins. In short, drug abuse can render a student useless and he or she can easily die as a result.

The social effects of hard drug habits beyond school are equally devastating. Family and friends respond differently but each family suffers humiliation and anxiety when a member is a drug abuser or an addict.

Let the student say no to drugs today and guarantee a happy and successful future. HURIWA cares.

Thank you for your attention and let’s put the lessons into practice.

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