1.1 Background to the Study

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 maladaptation 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.

1.2 Statement of Problem

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 cognisance 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.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

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:

a. To investigate the perception and attitude of undergraduate students towards drug abuse.

b. To examine the effect of drug use on undergraduate’s academic performance.

c. To assess the relationship between peer group influence and substance abuse among undergraduate students in Nigeria.

d. To investigate the link between excessive alcohol intakes and youths social wellbeing in higher institutions.

e. To find out the health implications of drug abuse among undergraduate students.

f. Lastly, the study shall provide plausible recommendations on how to build right perception and attitude towards drug abuse among undergraduate students.

1.4 Research Questions

The undertaking of this research project will beam a searchlight on the following research questions;

1. What is the perception and attitude of undergraduate students towards drug abuse?

2. What is the effect of drug use on undergraduate’s academic performance?

3. Is there any relationship between peer group influence and substance abuse among undergraduate students in Nigeria?

4. What are the health implications of drug abuse among undergraduate students?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The researcher intends to test the following hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance:

Hypothesis one:

H0: Perception and attitude of undergraduate students is not responsible for drug abuse.

Hypothesis Two:

H0: Drug use has no negative effect on undergraduate’s academic performance.