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INFLUENCE OF SUBSTANCE USE ON YOUTHS INVOLVEMENT IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES (A CASE STUDY OF ESAN CENTRAL, EDO STATE, NIGERIA)

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INFLUENCE OF SUBSTANCE USE ON YOUTHS INVOLVEMENT IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES (A CASE STUDY OF ESAN CENTRAL, EDO STATE, NIGERIA)

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Youth is a period of growth that is frequently marked by engaging in several forms of risky behaviour, including alcohol and drug experimentation, exploration of sexuality, and involvement in criminal activities. Many individuals engage in minor transgressions during their formative years at some point (Backman, Estrada, Nilsson, & Shannon, 2018).Substance misuse involves the use of an illicit drug such as heroin, or a licit substance like barbiturates, outside of medical supervision (Iwuajunwa, 2018). Such substances are often used to alter or maintain a mood, potentially causing harm to the individual or society. According to  the World Book Encyclopedia (2018), substance misuse is often referred to as “substance abuse” or “substance use disorders. However,many substance can be misused, including tobacco, alcohol, medications, and substances that emit intoxicating fumes. Historically, people have used natural substances, such as plants and herbs, for various purposes including pain relief, healing, or to induce feelings of well-being, energy, or relaxation. Many of these substances are now classified as illegal drugs (Efere, 2019). The use of opium (heroin) dates back thousands of years, with the Sumerians using it as far back as 5000 BC, where it was known as Hul Gil, meaning "joy plant." By the early 1990s, heroin had become available worldwide. Drug lords in Colombia and Burma began to operate as independent entrepreneurs, exploring new marketing opportunities and taking bold steps to expand their markets. With their immense wealth and power, they could produce and export vast quantities of heroin, utilizing established criminal organizations like the Mafia to broker these transactions (Efere, 2019). Furthermore, substance misuse is now a universal issue, transcending cultural groups and geographical regions to affect nations and continents globally. Nigeria's population is characterized by a pyramidal age structure, with 62 percent of its inhabitants under the age of 25 (Abeshi, 2019). This demographic detail underscores the significant implications of substance misuse and criminal behavior among the country's youth. According to Dankani (2022), 11 percent of Nigerian youth engage in various forms of substance misuse. The first National Drug Survey in Nigeria revealed that over 17 million Nigerians misused drugs in 2018, with specific figures including 10.6 million cannabis users, 4.6 million opioid users, 2.4 million individuals abusing cough syrups, and 92,000 cocaine users. Similarly, the prevalence of substance misuse in Nigeria stands at 14.4 percent (14.3 million people), compared to the global prevalence of 5.6 percent. One in seven Nigerians aged 15 to 64 misused at least one psychoactive substance other than alcohol and tobacco, against the global average of one in twenty. Additionally, one in five drug users in Nigeria suffers from drug use disorders. For cough syrup containing codeine, a higher percentage of women (2.5%) than men (2.3%) were involved. This trend poses serious risks for expectant mothers who misuse drugs, potentially affecting their unborn babies during prenatal and neonatal stages. Moreover, one in five high-risk drug users in Nigeria injects drugs using hypodermic needles and syringes, with the most commonly injected drugs being pharmaceutical opioids like Tramadol, tranquilizers, and methamphetamines. Despite Nigeria's population being about 3 percent of the world's population, 6 percent of all cannabis users worldwide are in Nigeria. Similarly, 4 percent of all abusers of pharmaceutical opioids globally are Nigerians, making the country one of the largest populations of individuals misusing tramadol and codeine cough syrup(Lawal, 2019). Nevertheless, substance misuse has severe adverse effects on all nine domains of human security: personal security, health security, national security, social security, economic security, political security, food security, environmental security, and community security. Despite the physical and psychological effects of drugs and their association with crime and vagrancy impacting community security in Edo state, there is a noticeable lack of desired community involvement in drug control initiatives.The problem is so concerning that efforts to curb its spread have taken on a diplomatic dimension, leading to multilateral and bilateral treaties (Atkinson et al, 2019). It affects all economic levels of society, from the wealthy to the impoverished, and occurs among both young people and adults.  Beyond that, substance misuse is a global health and social issue with conditions and problems that vary locally. The use of psychoactive substances among  youths has become a subject of global concern, partly due to its potential to contribute to both unintentional and intentional injuries. Substance misuse is a universal phenomenon that crosses socio-economic, cultural, religious, and ethnic boundaries. Despite efforts by various Nigerian government tiers and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to control it, there has been a consistent rapid rise in cases, particularly among youth. This increase has led to a rise in cultism, violent disorders, and mental health issues among Nigerian youths (Oshikoya, 2019). Among youths, three major factors contribute to the propagation of substance use and misuse: peer influence, a youth culture that emphasizes autonomy, and enthusiasm for unconventional behavior (Agbakwuru,2018). Patterns of substance misuse among youths include various aspects such as the amount, frequency, type of substances used, circumstances of use, and social contexts. Analyzing contemporary social problems has become increasingly controversial due to the numerous variables involved, with substance misuse being a major concern for the individual, their family, the government, and society at large. This issue has caused significant embarrassment to the government and has notably damaged Nigeria's image abroad. Therefore, a survey will be conducted in order to examine the influence of substance use on youths involvement in criminal activities.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Substance misuse among young people has been a significant and urgent topic of discussion in Nigeria. It is a matter of public health and security concern, particularly in light of the recent security challenges faced by previously tranquil communities in Ikorodu, Lagos state (Aluko, 2019). Acts of theft, burglary, rape, armed robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, school dropout, and broken families are prevalent security concerns in Edo state, particularly,among undergraduates students. Regrettably, it is suspected that these acts may have been facilitated due to the use of drugs. Additionally, law enforcement agents have documented the arrests of criminals involved in serious crimes including as kidnapping and armed robbery with Edo state. These criminals were found in possession of significant amounts of narcotics. This suggests a potential connection between drug abuse and the commission of criminal activities within the state.Substance addiction in Nigeria have significantly evolved over the years. Beyond traditional drugs like Indian hemp and cannabis sativa, the misuse of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) such as codeine-based cough syrups, shisha, and controlled drugs like tramadol, exol, rohypnol, pemoline, and diazepam has become increasingly common among young people in Lagos state. According to Muhammad (2019) and Abasiubong (2020), these activities may have contributed to the rising prevalence of psychological issues in Edo state. Furthermore, the incidence of drug misuse and associated criminal behavior in these states has escalated rapidly over the years. These developments have significant implications for community security, as addressing drug-induced illnesses imposes substantial economic and social burdens on both families and the government responsible for healthcare services. However, a considerable portion of the healthcare budget is consistently allocated to this issue.While substance abuse not only brings social and economic consequences but also threatens the integrity of social and economic structures within communities. This is evident in its link to overall insecurity, criminal activity, and fatal traffic accidents, among other negative outcomes. Hence, it is in the light of these that the study seeks to examine the influence of substance use on youths involvement in criminal activities.

 1.3  Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine the influence of substance use on youths involvement in criminal activities. Specifically, the study will;

Determine the prevalence of substance use among youths in Esan central, Edo state.

Find out the factors contributing to the  involvement of youths in criminal activities Esan central, Edo state.

Investigate the correlation between substance use and involvement in criminal activities

1.4  Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the study:

What is the prevalence of substance use among youths in Esan central, Edo state?

What factors contribute to the involvement of youths in criminal activities in Esan central, Edo state?

What is the correlation between substance use and involvement in criminal activities among youths in Esan central, Edo state?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

H0: Substance use has no significant influence on youths' involvement in criminal activities.

Ha: Substance use has a significant influence on youths' involvement in criminal activities.

 Significance of the Study

The study will assist policymakers in designing a policy framework for government agencies such as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigeria Police Force, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to implement effective drug control measures in Nigerian communities. Additionally, it could serve as a policy direction for policymakers and drug control authorities in Nigeria, providing comprehensive and comprehensible data on drug-related crimes and their implications for community security in Edo state. Furthermore, the findings of the study will raise awareness among youths about the dangers of substance abuse and provide them with the skills and support needed to make healthy choices and avoid criminal behavior.Also, lead to more proactive involvement of parents and guardians in their children's lives.Moreover, subsequent researchers will use it as a literature review. This means that other students who may decide to conduct studies in this area will have the opportunity to use this study as available literature that can be subjected to critical review. Invariably, the result of the study contributes immensely to the body of academic knowledge with regard to the influence of substance use on youths involvement in criminal activities.

1.6 Scope of the study   

The scope of this study is boarded on the influence of substance use on youths involvement in criminal activities. Empirically, this study will determine the prevalence of substance use among youths, find out the factors contributing to the  involvement of youths in criminal activities and investigate the correlation between substance use and involvement in criminal activities.

Geographically, the study will be delimited to youths of Esan central, Edo state, Nigeria.

1.7 Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed. More so, the findings of this study are limited to the sample population in the study area, hence they may not be suitable for use in comparison to other schools, local governments, states, and other countries in the world.

 1.9 Definition of Terms

Substance use: refers to the consumption of drugs, alcohol, or other chemical substances that can alter an individual's mental state. 

Criminal activities: the participation in behaviors that violate the law and are punishable by the criminal justice system.

Youth:  an individual between the age of 18years to 35 years


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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