10 Causes of Drug Abuse in Nigeria and Solutions

Drug abuse seems to only be on the increase in Nigeria despite several legislation and governmental policies against it.

For instance, Section 10 of the  NDLEA Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010 prohibits the use of hard drugs (like cocaine and heroin) without lawful authority. Whoever is caught, according to the Act, is liable to 15 to 25 years imprisonment without an option of fine.

But, looking at Nigerian society it is needless to say that this law seems non-existent. While the NDLEA is actively apprehending suspects of drug trafficking at ports and borders, the everyday drug abuser in the neighborhood is having a field day. 

Aside from the lack of implementation of the laws, what are the causes of drug abuse in Nigeria? I’ll be highlighting 10 of them here.

Causes of Drug Abuse in Nigeria and Solutions

1. The Media

Both the mass and social media are major contributors to the increase in drug abuse in Nigeria. Celebrity musicians and comedians continually paint pictures of drug abuse as being exciting, trending, and even beneficial.

Although they do not actively tell adolescence to begin to do drugs, the lifestyles they portray endorse it.

Adolescence and youth who haven’t formed a strong identity easily get gulled and follow suit.

Rather than boring campaigns being done against drug abuse through the mass and social media, the advocacy against drugs should be done the same way the advocacy for it is being done— through subtle portrayals of the benefits of life without drugs.

Musicians, actors, social media influencers, and people with any form of influence should rise to this.

2. Peer Pressure

Another cause of drug abuse among adolescents and youth in Nigeria is peer pressure.

When a child who has no experience with drugs finds themselves among a group of people who abuse used drugs as a norm, they will also fall into it unless they have a strong resolve or tactics to live above peer pressure.

Many students who come for drug addiction counseling admit that they got into drugs through the influence of peers. While it is impossible to flush out every negative influence from one’s life, it is possible to learn the tactics to live above it.

If adolescents can learn these tactics, they will live above even other causes of drug abuse.

Related: How To Overcome Peer Pressure And Live Happy

3. Curiosity

It is one thing to get stirred by an external force to try to do drugs, but it is another thing to get stirred by one’s curiosity. Because many adolescents are aware of the consequences of drugs or are just curious to see how they will feel on drugs, they experiment with them.

Unfortunately, most of the commonly abused drugs in Nigeria have addictive components.

So the child who only took it to experience the feeling gets stuck to it. 

Now, people only get curious about what they don’t have adequate knowledge of. The presence of curiosity is proof of a knowledge gap.

The solution to this cause of drug abuse is to make more than enough information available to children while they grow up. 

This is not just telling them not to do it but also explaining truthfully the pleasures and pains that come with it. And giving them strong enough reasons to forsake the pleasures.

4. Self-medication 

Also hinging on the addictive components of these drugs, self-medication is another factor that gives rise to drug abuse. In fact, by definition self-medication is drug abuse— taking drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

Cases of overdose and underdose are common in Nigeria, where people determine the measure of a drug they take by how much pain or discomfort they feel. 

Even if some of these drugs are not addictive, they create an imbalance in one’s physiology that keeps them going back to the drug to, for instance, get over a recurring headache.

To curb this, the NDLEA should bring to its minimum the proliferation of drugs that do not have clear enough dosage written on them. Also, local drug stores and pharmacies should be brought on board in the advocacy against drug misuse since they are the closest to the average drug consumer.

5. Genetic Background

It has been found that children of parents who are drug addicts have a genetic tendency to become drug addicts. This is not the case of just seeing their parents doing it and modeling.

Children who are taken away from their drug-abusing parents and have no knowledge of the lifestyle their parents lived have also proven to tilt towards drug abuse more than those with parents who didn’t do drugs.

Changing parents is impossible, and changing genetic imprints is impossible, but what can be done is to pay extra attention to children from these parents. 

They should be given more attention, taught to say no, and shielded from situations and environments that stimulate the desire. All these can be done by intentional parents, teachers, or guidance counselors.

6. Emotional Imbalance

Emotional and psychological maladjustment like low self-esteem, loneliness, and depression can lead to drug abuse.

The average human does not grow up in a society that teaches them coping mechanisms against emotional and psychological issues that are sure to rise. At least not in Nigeria. So we are all left to find ways around this.

While some are able to adopt healthy coping mechanisms, others choose unhealthy ones, among which is drug abuse. This, of course, happens with a combination of other factors like peer pressure and the media.

Because children spend more of their time in schools, schools should be maximized as building grounds to train children with healthy coping mechanisms. 

Teachers shouldn’t shy away from it.

Also, the school administrators must ensure the proper functioning of all school guidance personnel, school guidance committees, and the school guidance counselor. They will be the strongest forces to see the school develop this aspect of the student.

Parents should also be involved in the emotional and psychological development of their children. 

7. Environmental Influence

Grow up a child in a neighborhood where drugs are abused openly and unapologetically and you are sowing seeds that might grow into a child that abuses drugs.

Wrong environments can stir up their curiosity, present drugs as a coping mechanism, and give access to peers that can pressure them into drugs.

The NDLEA should come in to clean up the streets of Nigeria from open drug use. Also, they should work hand-in-hand with community heads and community police to fish out the hideout of sellers of hard drugs.

8. Lack of Parental Supervision

No matter the measures taken by schools, the government, and communities, the outcome of a child’s life is largely determined by the home front. 

Several children have had all other forces working against them like their environment and the media but didn’t go into drugs because they have supportive parents who are always there to give guidance and answer their questions.

Parents must become proactive in giving proper guidance to their children and shouldn’t turn them off when they ask curious questions about drugs.

9. Rebellion

Another cause of drug abuse among adolescents and youths in Nigeria is rebellion. When children want to intentionally go against the wishes of their parents to make them feel hurt, they begin to do things that their parents have asked them not to do.

This can be because they think their parents are over-demanding or not being emotionally present for them.

Parents can prevent rebellion from taking place by building an emotionally fertile home that shows children that they are loved even when they are scolded or made to do difficult things.

Creating an emotionally fertile home, on the other hand, should not be mistaken for over-pampering kids. On the contrary, when kids are allowed to do EVERYTHING their way, it gives rise to undisciplined children who are at a higher risk of being drug abusers.

10. Grief

Grief is the last reason why people go into drugs I’ll be considering. After the loss of someone dear, people turn to drugs to clear their minds of the pain and thoughts of the person.

Although these drugs really help, they are only short-lived.

So the person needs to take another dose for another episode of oblivion until they get addicted to the drugs.

There are no facilities in Nigeria to help people when they are in grief but change can be made. Grief counseling and therapy should be advocated for and embraced. The positive effect guidance and counseling will have on Nigerian society cannot be stated enough.

Here is a separate article explaining the blessings of embracing and advocating for guidance and counseling in Nigeria.


The 10 most common causes of drug abuse in Nigeria are the media, peer pressure, curiosity, self-medication, genetic background, emotional imbalance, environmental influence, lack of parental supervision, rebellion, and grief.

Some of the solutions to drug abuse in Nigeria include embracing counseling in schools, proactive law enforcement agencies, creating emotionally supportive homes by parents, and continuous sensitization of the youth.

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