Globalization and Drug and Alcohol Use in Rural Communities in Nigeria: A Case Study

Article excerpt

This paper presents an exploratory study of alcohol and drug use in two rural communities in Plateau State, Nigeria. The aim is to raise awareness of the rural alcohol and drug problem. The paper examines the patterns of alcohol consumption and drug use, and their perceived functions for substance use among rural farmers in Nigeria. The study shows the common use of marijuana and alcohol in addition to prescription drugs. There is also evidence of multiple or combinational drug use. Pleasure and relaxation emerged as the major reasons for drug and alcohol use. Factors influencing alcohol and drug use are the relative neglect of rural communities, and the activities of hawkers, quacks, and other untrained individuals pervading the rural health sectors. The paper calls for further research to adequately capture the reality of alcohol and drug use in rural communities in Nigeria.

Keywords: Nigeria, globalization, drug use, alcohol use, rural communities

Introduction

Drug and alcohol problems in Nigeria have assumed epidemiological dimensions. A visit to most hospitals reveals the preponderance of drug-related psychotic disorders. In a study of five selected psychiatric hospitals, Obot and Olaniyi (1991) show that drug related cases have increased since 1985. In a related study, Ikwuagwu et al. (1993) found that about 60 percent of substance abusers are young persons. Other studies also raise an alert on the dimensions and epidemiology of drugs and alcohol consumption and abuse in Nigeria (Nevadomsky, 1982; Ebie and Pela, 1981; Ifamayi and Ahmed, 1987; Odejide, 1997; Adelekan, 2002; Obot, 2003). Judged by reports in the popular media, accumulating research evidence in scientific journals, and the increasing tempo of anti-drug activities by Federal and state Ministries of Health, Private Non-governmental organizations and concerned individuals, Nigeria today has a growing drug problem (Obot, 1993: iv).

This awareness has identified the 'drug and alcohol problem' as exclusively an urban problem. Consequently, research initiatives, educational interventions, and interdiction measures are determined by urban values and trends, which have not sufficiently improved the situation in the rural communities. The rural drug and alcohol scene is affected by this paucity of information, because rural drug problems are more likely to be seen as primarily isolated problems of little national interest. There is the need for studies to explore, assess, and monitor the rural alcohol and drug use in Nigeria, because the solutions to the problem lie in the community itself.

This paper presents a recent exploratory study of alcohol and drug use in two rural communities in Nigeria. It aims at generating knowledge and enhancing the understanding of precipitating factors of alcohol and drug use in rural areas.

Drug and Alcohol Use in Nigeria: A Review

Venturing into a relatively new terrain must necessarily begin with an exhaustive review of the trends in literature as a bridge between the past and the future. Alcohol and drug issues emerged in the literature in the 1960s (Asuni, 1978). However, rigorous academic interest did not surface until in the 1970s. The first trend of literature prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s attempts to capture the nature of drug use among youths and students (e.g., Asuni, 1978; Akindele, 1974; Olatawura and Odejide, 1975; Anumonye, 1980; Novadomsky, 1981). Some research in this trend focuses on specific regions (Odejide 1987; Novadomsky, 1981), and other research focuses on the incidence of mental health in Nigeria (Akindele, 1974; Asuni, 1978). In a major review of this research, Pela and Ebie (1982) note that there was no age limit to drug use because there is a decline in the age of exposure to drugs and alcohol. The initial contacts have increased to include clandestine agents, home medicine chests, open markets, chemists' shops and cannabis farms. As a result, there was no relationship between religion, culture, social class, and drug and alcohol use (Pela and Ebie, 1982; Odejide, 1982). …