The study was conducted to determine the extent of drug abuse among secondary school students in Ezza North LGA, Ebonyi State. Six specific objectives with six corresponding research questions and three null-hypotheses were postulated to guide the study. The descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. The sample consisted of 674 secondary school students. Random sampling techniques of balloting without replacement, disproportionate sampling techniques and systematic sampling techniques were used to draw the sample for the study. A two-section researcher’s designed questionnaire which was titled (EDASQ) was the instrument used for data collection. The instrument was validated by five experts from the Department of Health and Physical Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.  Means were used to answer the research questions while t-Test statistic was used in testing null hypothesis one and  Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) statistic was used in test null hypotheses two and three at .05 level of significance and appropriate degree of freedom. The result of the study showed that: The secondary school students are abusing depressants drugs in a very low extent as their cluster mean is (1.66); the students are abusing stimulants drugs in a very low extent as their cluster mean score is (1.81); Students do not abuse hallucinogen drugs at all as their cluster mean score is (1.27). The independent variables (gender and age) considered, had no significant influence at .05 level of significance, on the extent of drug abuse among secondary school students while class of study had a significant difference at .05 level of significance on the extent of drug abuse among the students.



Background to the Study

            The history of the human race cannot be complete without the extent of drug abuse as an aspect. There is nothing wrong when human beings use drugs, especially when they are properly administered. Drugs that are properly administered have served as medical function. For example, herbs, roots, bark, leaves and plants, all these have been used to relieve pains and help control diseases. People have used different kinds of drugs to change the way they feel or see the world. Different cultures have developed social rituals and rules around drug use as a way to control their impact on society. Drugs and how they are used also have different meanings in different cultures. For example in the Pacific Islands, according to Alexander, Watson and Fleming (1997) kava is drunk as a means of making contact with the supernatural, to welcome visitors to the community and to cure illnesses. They further observed that some Native American Indians use a mushroom that causes dream-like states as a way of getting in touch with the Great Spirit. People use alcohol and tobacco to celebrate special events like birthdays and weddings.

            According to Nwegbu (2000) thousands of the drugs used today abound.  Many of them, if properly used, are of immense value to man as far as disease treatment, correction of body abnormalities, and celebration of special events are concerned. However, if not properly used, drugs can have serious consequences. The most serious consequences are from the abuse of drugs. According to WHO (2005), drug abuse has been a part of human history for a long time. The body maintained that what is different today is increased availability of a wide variety of substances and the declining age at which experimentation with these substances take place. Leary (2010) concurring with WHO’ adds that the concern now is the  incidence, extent, prevalence, potency and diversity of designer drugs, the health effects of long term use/abuse and government legislation. In view of Leary’s assertion, the extent of drug abuse among secondary school students was the major concern of the present study.

            There are various definitions of what a drug is. For the purposes of this study, drug was considered to be any chemical substance, that changes a person’s mental state and that may be used repeatedly by a person for that effect. Debora, Psy, Ellen, Robert, and Jeanne (2008) conceptualized drugs as chemicals that have a profound impact on the neurochemical balance in the brain which directly affects how people feel and act.Maithya (2009) asserted that drug is any product other than food or water that affects the way people feel, think, see, and behave. He further posited that drug is a substance that due to its chemical nature affects physical, mental and emotional functioning. Within the context of the present study, drug is any substance that when taken by a living organism is capable of producing in the person or animal, some extra-ordinary changes which could be negative or positive. It covers almost everything that can be ingested, inhaled, smoked, chewed, rubbed on the skin, injected or absorbed. It includes legal and illegal substances such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco cigarette, petrol, kava, heroin, cocaine, crack, anabolic steroids, cannabis (marijuana), medicine, non-prescribed drugs, food additives and industrial chemicals. All these drugs can be used in the right way or be abused depending on the extent of involvement.

            American Psychiatric Association (1994) asserted that when categorizing extent of drug involvement, medical personnel use three terms: drug use, drug abuse, and drug dependence. The body posited that this medical usage differs substantially from the way the terms use and abuse are used by the U.S. Government. For the government, any use at all of an illegal drug or misuse of a legal drug is drug abuse.  According to APA (1994) the medical personnel generally define the terms as follows:  Drug use: Any taking in of a psychoactive substance. APA further maintained that the termsimple use is sometimes used to distinguish experimentation or occasional recreational use that does not reach the point of abuse or dependence. Heuer (1994) observed that the distinction between use and abuse is not meant to imply that simple use is benign or that there is any level of drug involvement that is not potentially dangerous. Abuse: Use becomes abuse when it continues despite persistent or recurrent social, occupational, psychological or physical problems caused by or made worse by this use.  For example, use before driving a car or engaging in other activities that are dangerous when under the influence of a psychoactive substance also qualifies as abuse. APA (1994) further observed that the transition from use to abuse is often gradual, and there is no clear threshold for defining the point at which use becomes abuse. Frequency and quantity of use are important considerations, as is the extent to which drug use has become a regular feature of one’s lifestyle. The body defined dependenceas the habitual, compulsive use of a substance over a prolonged period of time. The substance may be taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended. Within the context of the present study, any use at all of an illegal drug or misuse of a legal drug is drug abuse.

            The words, drug abuse means different things to different people, especially the experts. For instance, Nwegbu (2002) described drug abuse as when the drug is self- administered rather than being administered under medical supervision. On his part, Redmond (2008) asserted that, drug abuse is characterized by taking more than the recommended dose of prescription drugs such as barbiturates without medical supervision, or using government controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or other illegal drugs and legal drugs, such as alcohol and cigarette. Within the context of this study drug abuseinvolves theuse of drugs for purposes other than medical reasons. Drug abuse also refers to misuse of any psychotropic substances resulting in changes in bodily functions, thus affecting the individual in a negative way socially, cognitively or physically. Social effects may be reflected in an individual’s enhanced tendency to engage in conflicts with friends, teachers, and school authorities. Cognitive effects relate to the individual’s lack of concentration on academic work and memory loss such as “blackouts‟‟. 

            United Nation Drug Control Programme (1997) and Deborah, Psy, Ellen, Robert and Jeanne (2003) have described drug most commonly abused by secondary school students as psychoactive drug. According to them, the term ‘psychoactive drug’ is used to describe any chemical substance that affects mood, perception or consciousness as a result of changes in the functioning of the nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

            UNDP (1997) and Deborah, Psy, Ellen, Robert and Jeanne (2003) further groups Psychoactive drugs into three categories: depressants: they slow down the central nervous system (e.g. tranquillizers, alcohol, heroin, barbiturates), stimulant: they excite the nervous system (e.g. nicotine, tobacco cigarette, caffeine, coffee, bitter kola, cola nut, cocaine, crack, amphetamines, Lipton), and hallucinogens: they distort how things are perceived (e.g. marijuana, ecstasy, LSD/Acid, magic mushrooms, ketamine, PCP-phencyclidine) and are either ingested inhaled, smoked, injected, chewed, rubbed on the skin or absorbed. The present study adopted all these drugs as grouped by UNDP (1997) and Deborah, et al., (2003) to determine the extent of abuse among secondary school students in Ezza North LGA.

            Though the extent of drug abuse is unknown in Nigeria, there is considerable evidence that the problem of drug abuse may well be growing among secondary school students in both the rural and urban areas of Nigeria (Ogundele, 1986; Ogundele, 1987; & Olabisi, 2000).  According to Larson and Simonis (2005) the incidence and extent of drug abuse often occurs among secondary school students. Merriam-Websters (2006) defined extent as the distance or range over which something extends. He further posited that extents explain the point, degree or limit to which something extends. Hornby (2008) defined extent as how large, important or serious something is, He further maintained that extent is used to show how far something is true or how great an effect it has. In this present study extent refers to the degree or limit in which secondary school students in Ezza North LGA, of Ebonyi State abuse drugs. The life time abuse and current abuse of drugs will be used to measure the extent of drug abuse among secondary school students in Ezza North LGA. According to Smart, Hughes and Johnson (1980) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2010) lifetime use of a substance was defined as ever use of any of the listed substances in a lifetime, while current use was defined as the use of any of the substances in the last 12 months with continuing use within the last 30 days preceding the study. This method was adopted by the present researcher to elicit information on the extent of drug abuse among secondary school students.

            According to Okozia and Aluede (2009) the extent of drug abuse among adolescents can be determined in secondary schools. Eneh and Stanly (2004) asserted that the extent of drug abuse among secondary school students is high. Encarta (2008) defines secondary school as a school for students who have completed their primary education, usually attended by children in grade 10 to 12. Pearson (2005) posited that, it is a school for children between the ages of 10 to 18 years. In this work therefore, secondary school students are students presently attending secondary schools in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. These included all students at the age of 10 years to 19years who are in the junior or senior secondary school classes.

            Swaid (1998) asserted that drug abuse among adolescents within these age bracket is almost always a social experience and a learned behaviour. He maintained that this behaviour has been found to lead to the trying out of new experiences such as drug and sex, sometimes with dire consequence for the adolescents. Adolescence has got various definitions. According to Chinn (2002), adolescence may most appropriately be conceptualized as the period of life during which emancipation with the primary family units is the central task of the individual. Marlow (2002) asserted that adolescence begins when the secondary sex characteristics appear and ends when somatic growth is completed and the individual is physical mature, capable of taking his place as a contributing member of society. According to Larson and Simonis (2004b) it is the stage of life between childhood and adulthood. He further posited that, it is a time when one undergoes dramatic changes physically, emotionally and even socially. Carmona and Stewart (2001) stated that adolescents at this stage reject conventionality and traditional authority figure in an effort to establish their own independence. For the significant number of adolescents, this rejection consists of engaging in number of risky behaviours including drug abuse, they concluded.  United Nations International Children Education Fund (2005) defined adolescents as individuals between the ages of 10 and 19 years. This UNICEF adolescent’s age range of 10 to 19years was adopted for the present study.