Impact of Substance Abuse on Mental Health

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Substance abuse and its detrimental effects on mental health has emerged as significant concerns worldwide. According to Adejimi, he says that, “Nigeria has a growing youth population, and the issue of substance abuse among young individuals has gained prominence, with a prevalence rate of 14.4%, which is significantly higher than the global average”.

As per the 2021 World Drug Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 14.3 million people in Nigeria use drugs without a valid medical prescription, and approximately 30% of the Nigerian population suffers from mental disorders, with some cases being linked to substance abuse.

In Nigeria, alcohol and cigarettes were the most abused substances, with a prevalence rate of 61.5% and 54.5%, respectively. Substance abuse among users with mental health issues has been associated with gender, marital status, education, schizophrenia, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, delusion, history of violence, and history of suicide attempt.

Substance abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and difficulty quitting despite negative consequences. Addiction disrupts brain function and impairs an individual’s ability to control impulses, leading to detrimental effects on mental health.

Some substances, particularly hallucinogens and stimulants, can induce psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. These symptoms significantly impact an individual’s perception of reality and can lead to long-term mental health complications.

In Nigeria, treatment options for substance abuse and mental health disorders are restricted, resources and adequately trained professionals are scarce to address these issues. However, some treatment options are available, such as medication-assisted treatment, which is a method of treating substance use disorders by combining medication with therapy and counseling.

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a type of therapy that helps people to understand and change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can be used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and addiction.

The National Minimum Standards for Drug Dependence Treatment in Nigeria and the National Guidelines for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders guide the treatment of substance abuse in Nigeria.

– Usman Ejura Comfort
Prince Abubakar Audu University (PAAU)  Anyigba, Kogi State.


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