Use of drugs among youths is a global phenomenon eating deep into the fabrics of our society. Undergraduates are most vulnerable at this transformative stage in their life. Available report indicates that Nigeria is currently the highest consumer of cannabis and amphetamine in Africa. What is the prevalence of this abuse by students? This research was designed to identify the prevalence of substance abuse among undergraduate students in Benue state university. In this project we have investigated the perception and attitude of undergraduate students towards drug abuse and to examine the effect of drug use on undergraduate’s academic performance and also assessed the relationship between peer group influence and substance abuse among undergraduate students. At the end we provide plausible recommendations on how to build right perception and attitude towards drug abuse among undergraduate students. Self-administered questionnaire consisting of open and close-ended questions generated using research objectives was used in data collection.





Drug abuse is a social problem that has spread and increased rapidly in our educational institutions especially among the undergraduates’ students. In Nigeria, this social mal adaptation is considered an issue of serious concern as it adversely affects the lives and performance of students involved as well as the harmonious functioning of the entire structure of the society. Drug abuse and other associated problems are inimical to the survival and effective functioning of human societies. A significant number of untimely deaths and accidents have been ascribed to the activities of persons under the influence of one drug or the other (Amosun, Ige and Ajala, 2010).

Drug abuse is a major public health problem all over the world (UNODC, 2005). The use and abuse of drugs by undergraduates have become one of the most disturbing health related phenomena in Nigeria and other parts of the world (NDLEA cited in Josephine, 2014). Several school going youths experience mental health problem, either temporarily or for a long period of time. Some become insane, maladjusted to school situations and eventually drop out of higher institutions. In Nigeria today, the consequences of drug abuse are diverse, including acute and chronic health, social as well as psychological problem. There is disruption of interpersonal relationships particularly within the family, marginalization, criminal behaviour, school failure, vocational problems and failure to achieve normal undergraduates’ milestones, yet these undergraduates are expected to be the leaders of the country in the future when they do not even have any focus for the future. Several studies carried out among undergraduate students in Nigeria by Jairus, Vanen, Ode, Jerry, Isaac, Wallace, Ode and Terlumun (2017); Philip, Edna and Samson (2016); Adegboro (2014); Babalola, Ogunwale and Akinhanmi (2013) found out that students and youth of easy virtue in the universities are involved in cannabis abuse and stimulants such as amphetamines and cannabis. The consensus of opinion therefore seems to be that undergraduates are also seriously involved in drug and substance abuse.

Drug abuse has become such a problem of great concern to all well-meaning Nigerian and particularly the Federal Government to the extent that an Agency has been established to combat the social disease with a view to reducing the spread of drug abuse to the barest minimum or eradicating it totally but the impact of the Agency is yet to be felt as drug abuse among undergraduates pervades. The Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has stated that drug abuse is a major problem in schools (NDLEA cited in Josephine, 2014). Many of these behaviors are heavily tied to the peer culture, as children learn from and imitate the peers they like and admire. Wanting to be attractive to others becomes very important in adolescence, and this factor is significant in the development of eating disorders, alcohol consumption, tobacco and drug use, tanning, not practicing safe sex, and vulnerability to injury, among other behaviour. These adolescent who get involved in such risky behaviour often have high levels of conflict with their parents and poor self-control, suggesting that they engage in such behaviour to manage a stressful life (Taylor, 2003). Parental deprivation due to deaths, divorces, separation or discord has also been strongly associated with drug abuse (Odejide cited in Josephine, 2014).

Majority of the Nigerian undergraduates ignorantly depend on one form of drug or the other for their various daily activities such as social, educational, political, moral etc. such drug include tobacco, Indian hemp, cocaine , morphine, Heroine, Alcohol, Epherdrine, Madras, caffeine, Glue, Barbiturates, Amphetamines etc. Oshikoya and Alli (2006) in their studies on perception of Drug Abuse amongst Nigerian undergraduates identified dependence and addiction as one of the major consequence of drug abuse, characterized by compulsive drug craving seeking behaviour, are use that persist even in the face of negative consequences.

The alarming evidence in the prevalence of drug abuse, the effects and consequences among undergraduates has called for concern and challenge to all helping professions to mount strategies of equipping youths with skills of living devoid of drug abuse



It is generally observed that the majority of university undergraduates arrogate specific deadlines to their stay on campus and may want to maximize both the main and peripheral opportunities while it lasts with the perception that the society still regards them as late adolescents or youths who could be excused for certain misdemeanors. Unfortunately, while passing out on record time is highly appreciated, passing through the university campus without allowing the university decorum to pass through the undergraduates is quite sad and drug-dependent life- style is an index of this. Having to adjust to the transitional period between the Secondary School-bell controlled system and the self-controlled life on campus may be quite problematic for some students hence the need to regulate life-style and study-habit by the use of some drugs thereby abusing them. Not knowing when to stop is self-defeating hence it falls into life-style giving the users the label ‘abusers’.

Equally disturbing is undergraduates perceptual error and attitude to use drugs to combat real or imagined fear of failure either by boosting self-esteem/self-confidence or by underscoring focused determination to achieve academic goal on record time. This may be adopted as an escape mechanism from the draconian laws of ‘being advised to withdraw’ or having an extension without cognizance of the pernicious effects of drug abuse. More worrisome is the peculiar sociological and socio-economic problems that university students find themselves such as unbridled freedom, possession/control of too much money, poor role-models, too-much play and less-work syndrome, irrational ambition, doggedness and self-medication. All these are manifestations of deliberate indulgence in unrecompensed, unprescribed, unnecessary and excessive drug use to keep life going on the campus. The problem of drug abuse is so grave that though it was originally conceived as the problem of a ‘select few’, it has extended beyond the usual characteristics of abusers being male, adult and urban based people to now include female, youngsters and rural dwellers. These abusers erroneously perceive and believe that drugs enhance their performance, put them in good mood, the accompany problems of this act constitute a major threat to the well-being of the society.

Drug abuse causes a lot of risk among the undergraduates; it results to gang formation, armed robbery, mental illness, cultism among others. It is against this backdrop that this research seeks to investigate prevalence of drug abuse among undergraduate students with a special reference to students of the Benue State University, Makurdi






The general objective of this study is to explore the prevalence of drug abuse among undergraduate students in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of this study are to:

  1. To investigate the perception and attitude of undergraduate students towards drug abuse and to examine the effect of drug use on undergraduate’s academic performance
  2. To assess the relationship between peer group influence and substance abuse among undergraduate students in Nigeria.
  3. To find out the health implications of drug abuse among undergraduate students.
  4. To provide plausible recommendations on how to build right perception and attitude towards drug abuse among undergraduate students.





Ho: Perception and attitude of undergraduate students is not responsible for drug abuse

Hi: Perception and attitude of undergraduate students is responsible for drug abuse


Ho: Drug use has no negative effect on undergraduate’s academic performance

Hi: Drug use has a negative effect on undergraduate’s academic performance


The study will be significant in a number of ways. It will be useful to the students in schools, factors that influence drug abuse and the effect on their socio-emotional status. The study will also educate students on the risks involved in drug abuse. The result of study will enlighten the parents and families, through workshop and seminars, and mass media as it will enable parents to educate their children about the risks of illicit drug use. The parents on the other hand will be enlightened on the prevalence of drug use and abuse in the families. The study will also reveal to the society on the need to eradicate or discourage the use, sale, trafficking and recycling of illegal drugs. The study will help teachers to be enlightened on the effects of drug use and abuse among student how they can guide and counsel them. All these can be achieved by publishing the outcome of this research work. Drug abuse reflects a bad image of any society and, as a result, students may not be accepted in higher learning institutions, leading to a decline in education standards. Drug abusers are not likely to perform well in school and as a result may find it difficult to be accommodated in the economic market, which will lead to poverty in the society. Therefore, this study will provide information that will serve as a wake-up call for today‟s busy parents about the importance of creating a conducive environment for their children‟s growth under discipline. The information when published in journals will help schools in understanding the root causes of the students‟ misconduct so that these institutions can find ways to encourage their (students) inner qualities by building a sense of self-worth. It can also be useful to community health and social workers who seek to promote emotional, mental and physical health of the society for it betterment. The result when made available to home economic teachers through publication, will evoke a sense of need to enlighten students in the class on the danger of drug abuse to the 8 individual and the fabric of the society. Efforts may also be made to involve drug abuse as a content of lesson in our schools by home economic curriculum developers.


This study is primary concerned with the prevalence of drug abuse among undergraduate students. This study covers Benue State University. The researcher encountered some constraints, which limited the scope of the study. These constraints include but are not limited to the following.

  1. a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
  2. b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.



Drug: Any product other than food or water that affects the way people feel, think, see, and behave. It is a substance that, due to its chemical nature, affects physical, mental and emotional functioning. It can enter the body through chewing, inhaling, smoking, drinking, rubbing on the skin, or injection.

Drug abuse: Use of drugs for non-medical purposes. Drug abuse refers to the misuse of any psychotropic substances resulting in changes in bodily functions, thus affecting the individual socially, cognitively or physically. Social effects may be reflected in an individual’s enhanced tendency to engage in conflicts with friends, teachers, and other school authorities. Cognitive effects can be seen in the individual’s lack of concentration on academic work and memory loss (Eysenck, 2002). Drug addiction: Addiction to drugs or alcohol means that a person’s body can no longer function without these substances. An addicted person may show a decline in academic performance, frequently fail to attend classes, lose interest in school work and display weakened motor coordination, poor health, and a lack of interest in old friendships. 262 Addiction by its nature distorts thinking processes giving prominence to thoughts, which justify the addictive behaviour and minimize or exclude thoughts about ceasing the behaviour (Miller, 2002; Diclemente, 2006). Drug related problems: This term is used to describe all the negative effects associated with drug abuse including ill health, violence, conflicts with friends or school authorities, destruction of school property and academic underperformance. Illegal/legal drugs: In this study illegal drugs refer to the substances deemed harmful to the mental and physical wellbeing of the individual by the government who seeks to control or discourage consumption by law. Legal drugs refer to those such as alcohol and tobacco that are potentially dangerous but whose consumption the government allows. Intervention: Attempts to help drug users positively modify their behaviour and change their attitude towards the misuse of drugs are referred to as interventions. These can include activities and programmes put in place to address or end drug abuse.

Psychoactive Substance: Refers to any substance that when taken can modify perception, mood, cognition, behaviour, or motor functions (UNICEF & WHO, 2006). Strategies: This term refers to the methods or approaches that schools have put in place to address drug related problems.

Youth: Refers to young people between 13 and 25 years of age or their activities and their characteristics. The majority of students in Nigerian secondary schools are between 13 and 19 years, a stage referred to as adolescence. The term youth therefore includes this age bracket of students.


This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concerned with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study



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