Academic journal article International Public Health Journal

Stimulant, Narcotic, and Hallucinogen Use among Long Distance Commercial Drivers in Sokoto: A Survey on Prevalence and Consequential Knowledge

Academic journal article International Public Health Journal

Stimulant, Narcotic, and Hallucinogen Use among Long Distance Commercial Drivers in Sokoto: A Survey on Prevalence and Consequential Knowledge

Article excerpt

Introduction

Psychoactive substances are chemical substances that act primarily on the central nervous system, causing alteration in behavior and cognition (1). The use of these substances, i.e., psychoactive substance use, refers to any form of its self-administration (1).

Psychoactive substances are categorized based on different classification schemes (2-3). However, the most common classification scheme for psychoactive substances is based on their effect on behavior and cognition; based on this scheme, psychoactive substances are categorized into: "stimulants," "hallucinogens and psychedelics," "opiates," and the "sedatives and hypnotics." We will expatiate only on the stimulants, hallucinogens, and narcotics, due to their relevance to this study.

The stimulants include amphetamine, caffeine, kola nut, stimulant tea, nicotine (or tobacco), appetite suppressants, and cocaine (3-5). These substances act on the central nervous system causing psychological, physiological, and behavioral effects (4, 6, 7). Stimulant use, in low dose, can cause euphoria, increased self-confidence, increased alertness, reduced fatigue and appetite, and increased energy and libido of the user (4, 8). When taken in higher doses, these feelings become intensified and may lead to bizarre erratic behavior, irritability, paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, hostility and violence; these behavioral manifestations are also accompanied by signs of over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system such as tachycardia, tachypnea, hyper-reflexia, tremor, hyperthermia, fever, and hypertension (9-11). Overdose of stimulants may cause convulsions, arrhythmias, respiratory failure, muscle hyperactivity which may cause rhabdomyolysis, cerebral hemorrhage, and death (12). The stimulants also have the potency to cause addiction among their users (4).

A hallucinogen is a substance that readily produces a change in perception as a primary effect, when consumed. Examples of hallucinogens include marijuana, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, psilocybin and psilocin (13). These substances, when used, alter the sensory processing unit in the brain and may produce the following effects: euphoria; depersonalization; enhanced awareness of sensory input; alteration in the perception of space, time, and body image; increased self-esteem; increased feeling of closeness to others; and increased ability to communicate with others (13). The degree of manifestation of the effects of hallucinogens varies greatly on the dosage, the personality of the user, and the condition under which they are administered (13). Hallucinogens have the potency of causing hallucinations, dependence, tolerance, and cross-tolerance (13).

The opiates are narcotics and they are known to relieve pains, reduce anxiety, and enhance body relaxation. They are psychoactive substances obtained from the opium poppy plant; they include heroin, morphine and codeine (14). These substances act through their profound effects on the cerebro-cortical regions of the brain that control the somatosensory and discriminative aspects of pain. Overdose of these substances can cause respiratory arrest and severe constipation. These substances are also known to cause dependence and tolerance (14).

Public health issues

The global prevalence of psychoactive substance use is growing rapidly (15-17). Every year, at least hundreds of thousands of people suffer from the harmful effects of substance use, some of which include mental illness, depression, liver failure, and kidney failure, just to mention a few (15-16).

The use of psychoactive substances by drivers is a common occurrence globally (18). Many long distance drivers use these substances: for preventing themselves from sleeping while driving; to boost their energy; and to increase their willingness for work and socialization (19).

Concerns are growing over the incidence of road traffic accidents among drivers who drive under the influence of psychoactive substances (20). …

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