The Silent Epidemic By Hannatu Musawa

Hannatu Musawa
Columnist: 
Hannatu Musawa

“I am an addict. A seemingly normal twenty-two year old Nigerian boy from a prominent family. It is ironic that my parents dedicated their lives to my siblings and I giving us the best of what money could buy and the morals and values which it could not.  My childhood memories are happy with a solid foundation in education at one of the most reputable private schools in the country. During my JS II, my father believed that the boarding school I was in was not an ideal learning environment. He came to this conclusion whilst visiting me at school and observed the ceiling and walls in our hostel were covered with damp patches. He had a taste of my school lunch and was not impressed. Even now I remember the question he asked me, “I have always prided myself in providing the best for my children and I am not happy with this school.  Son, how do you feel about going abroad to study?”

Most of my older brothers and sisters were studying abroad so it only seemed natural that I follow suit. I was never a particularly intelligent student but was always creative and I was able to express my feelings through paintings and sketches. I was always top of my Art class. My father enrolled me in a private school for boys in England, I knew he wasn’t expecting A’s but neither was he prepared for the downward spiral my life would soon take. I found myself drawn to a group of Nigerian boys with a similar background to me. Even though we all had guardians residing in the U.K, we were always longing to come home and began spending our pocket money recklessly trying to impress each other.  One cold, bleak winter – we were on a weekend outing and behind a dingy fast food place my daring new friends encouraged me to take my first sip of alcohol and inhale my first joint. After the initial coughs and sputtering, I discovered with foolish wonderment that I felt so alive, happy and free.  I felt invincible!  The R. Kelly song sprung to mind; I believe I can fly…. I did believe I could fly! All hesitation and anxiousness I had before disappeared. I found myself drawn to a new hobby… and it wasn’t Art!

My friends and I became professionals at covering our tracks. We helped each other with class work and home work, for we knew that if we started failing in school then too many questions would be asked. It became routine to sneak in papers for tests and exams and as a result my grades remained average yet stable. Inevitably, like anyone leading a double life I was to have a rude awakening. While shopping in one of the London’s biggest stores my friend dared me to steal a bandana off the rack. Given that I had just taken two glasses of vodka, I felt I could do anything. I took several bandanas and stuffed them into my pocket and of course and soon as I stepped outside, I was arrested. I then became that stereo-typed rich boy turned failure, a statistical problem common globally. My disappointed but ever supportive father had no choice but to bring me back to Nigeria where I was to face my demons.

I quickly found out that at home it was even easier to feed my monstrous habits. After all, even when denied pocket-money I could steal a watch, a mobile phone or anything remotely valuable from my mother and sell it off for a quick fix. I knew my mother wouldn’t expose me and I knew the police would not be involved. With rising unemployment and poverty engulfing our nation, it wasn’t difficult finding people who would do almost anything for a quick deal. I became a stranger to my family and they became my enemy, an obstacle to my dark sordid world. By the time my family clocked on to my reality, I was too far gone into my new obsession. My mother became a nervous wreck, continuously crying and praying for me. My father, sisters and brothers became angry and distant with me. I defensively reacted by retreating into my shell and became even angrier and volatile with my relatives and myself. I was my own worst enemy. Physically, I was a skeletal ghost, a shadow of my former self. In and out of Nigerian rehabilitation clinics I went. They were poorly equipped and usually congested with not only addicts but criminals as well. As a final resort my family were advised to take me to a remote clinic in the outskirts of town, far away from civilization itself. There were no bedrooms or proper running water. Instead there was a large unventilated cemented room where we were supposed to ‘sleep’. I spent 41 days seated with my back against the wall, without a place to stretch my legs or lay my head at night. The clinic was severely congested with a large number of boys and girls from privileged homes just like me. We were fed meagre and tasteless meals, often being beaten and counselled around the clock. We were chained to each other at all times not unlike the black slaves captured in the 19th century by human merchants. I ceased to feel completely human and saw myself as an object of ridicule and disgust.

Sadly, even with the immense degradation I went through; I have been unable to turn my life around. The drugs and alcohol that I crave so much have become the sole purpose of my life. I exist within a black hole, in the drug infested gutter of my Armageddon. When people see me now, they are afraid to approach me. My family is unable to look me in the eyes. I guess the emotional scars that I have burdened them with have cut too deep for them to ever forgive my sins or accept that I will never again be whole. I know what has become of me, I know what I am. But even within the backdrop of my desire to actually live a good life, I know with certainty that my cravings; my absolute need for my drugs and alcohol will continue to define me for the rest of my days. I know what I will be till my dying day…. I will forever be a chronic alcoholic and unrepentant drug addict…!”

This is the harrowing but true narrative of a boy who continues to go through hell on earth. Tragically this is a familiar story for many families. One would be hard pressed to find one extended family whose lives have not been troubled with the epidemic of drug abuse in one way or another. Drug and alcohol abuse in our society is a frightening but real problem and it is no longer relegated to the throngs of the poor or to any specific gender. Substance abuse disguises itself in many forms, many of them not obvious. Seemingly harmless cough syrups, painkillers, glue or even petrol are being abused daily by our youth. Horrifyingly, addiction often begins with that innocent sip or sniff of some substance. Frequently, when teenagers or young adults begin this abuse, parents or teachers are unlikely to notice at the very early stages when counselling and intervention could make the most effective difference. Young adults can be very creative and convincing with their stories when suspicion is raised about their behavioural patterns. We, as adults, need to recognise the subtle warning signals and tackle the problem at its early phases.

The drug epidemic sweeping our nation can no longer be swept under the carpet and can no longer be treated as if it is not a monumental problem that is plaguing our youth. Because we are still growing and developing as a nation, support groups and free counselling sessions and therapy are not yet provided by the government. As a result, parents need to play a more active role in ensuring children are educated about the ill use of drugs and alcohol. All learning institutions and the government also has got to address this epidemic that is ravaging our young generation by coming up with programmes that will begin to eliminate this scourge from our society.

When we encounter tendencies of antisocial behaviour from teenagers, let’s choose not to ignore it or pretend it will go away. Show the addicts care and understanding. Show them that you are ready, not only to guide and give advice, but to listen too. And remember, just like the boy narrating his story said, the symptoms of abuse are not so obvious in the beginning. Let us strive to protect our children against this evil silent epidemic.

Written By Hannatu Musawa
I invite you to follow me on Twitter- @hanneymusawa
Visit my Website- www.hannatumusawa.com
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a warning

This story serves as a warning to everyone,parents especially.it is veryy advisable for children under age,i.e below 18 to be watched carefully by parents or guardians as this is the time when characters and attitudes are being formed.it is of great importance of parents to instill great discipline on their children in their early stage of life.It may seem scary at first especially to the kids, but with time they tend to grow with it as responsibility,into habits and then attitude to an extent in which they would have influence on their peers and not the othe way round.Just as the a part of the bible,proverbs 22:6,which says"train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old,he will not depart from it"...this really goes a long way.ADEEKO BOLUWATIFE,CALEB UNIVERSITY,IMOTA,LAGOS STATE.

a warning to others

this story should serve as a warning to others especially parents.First of all, a child who is below the age 18 should be strictly watched by the parents under strong principles and disciplines.instilling this discipline into them at their young age creates dis sense of fear at 1st,then later responsibility and then finally into habits and attitudes that even influences his other mates instead of the other way round,just like the part of the Bible,proverbs 22:6 which says,"train up a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it"..this in all goes a really long way.And also the isssue of rehabilitaiton should be made public,as this will creaate awareness to those who are already threading on that path to retrace their steps.ADEEKO BOLUWATIFE,CALEB UNIVERSTY,IMOTA,LAGOS STATE.

Allhamdulillah;

It is good for a good muslim brother or sister to expose what is harm to the society and to share the experiance of what has happend, who ever have the intention or he is in the circle let him know the effect.Thanks Hannatu May Allah Guide us to the rigth path

hannatu spare a thought for yr kids dying of lead poisoning

In the west, children with more than five micrograms per decilitre of blood would generally be admitted to hospital. In Zamfara State children with 300-400 micrograms per decilitre are being treated.Ivan Gayton says the levels are staggering: “The kind of lead poisoning levels we’re seeing here are absolutely unprecedented. “The largest lead poisoning in modern history was in Kosovo in the 1990s, where we were talking a few hundred people with lead levels in the 50-200 categories. Here we’re talking about thousands of people with lead levels in the multi-hundreds. It really is an unprecedented epidemic, so to a certain extent we don’t know what the long-term effects will be.” Doctors do know that thousands of children who survive could suffer long-term mental consequences. Lead poisoning causes brain damage and lowers IQ, and there are scientific studies suggesting it could be linked to increased aggression.

should rehabilitation in nigeria be public policy

yes, I think so. your story is typical of so many youths in nigeria who have fallen prey to hard drugs and ended up victims of substance abuse. rehabilitating them should be a public policy issue in nigeria. I just wrote a piece on how teenagers who turn out to live qualitative lives have been discovered to ensure the economic development of any country. http://emekadavid-solvingit.blogspot.com/2013/01/if-happy-adolescents-ma.... Until our govt seats up, your story will be a silent epidemic that many will live with.

Code of Conduct!

Honestly before I forgot, I just want to really ask, what its wrong this SS Ninjers?, there have never being any important topic on SR that they would mention SS is dying, SS has being lynched, SS mandates have been "stolen", SS need a place of their own, etc... Let me give a you guys piece of an advice, turn to God, period, if you really want to be relived from this tormented nightmare or daymare just have faith and be prayerfull. But honestly you guys really are daft 'sorry to imply', I mean just think it this way, if you guys have your way, do you really think SS will become China?, OH Please!, wake up Deri(alias Dumbo's Dog) and Sultanofsokoto(name robber).

You can continue to blame the innocent North however you like, while your downfallness has always and would always be ochestrated by your kinsmen. Turn to God right now for deliverance and salvation before is too late.

God bless Naijar!.

Nice Piece!

Is of great honour and another round applause for a a reowned writter from beautiful a zone "Arewa", proud of you. Just keep it up.
Drug abuse has become somewhat of a movie in midst of the youths in every society, but I crave more for Naijar, because ours is always unque. If not how can you not imagine a student drinking 7 codein at the same time, anyway he left herioc name behind for his co-drinker to emulate after passing away.
So is high time, especially parents to be concscience about the wellbeing of there offsprings, spoiling your child with gift and riches is not the way to train or love a child. They should know that Allah(SWT), would ask them to account for the wellbeing of there children.
May Allah(SWT) lead us to the right path. Amiin.

FREE LIFE CAPSULES for Nigns!!!

This was done specifically to re-direct the minds of impressionable citizens, & even adults who are intent on self-realization

As a first step to this national re-orientation, I invite you to to be among the few select Nigns who'd be privileged to receive these life-changing tips & strategies WEEKLY.

Follow my Twitter handle: @hrap5050

Baltasar Gracian said,

"One of the gifts of the hero is the ablity to dwell with heroes"

N. Hill also says: one sound idea is all you need to achieve success.

FREE LIFE CAPSULES for Nigns!!!

This was done specifically to re-direct the minds of impressionable citizens, & even adults who are intent on self-realization

As a first step to this national re-orientation, I invite you to to be among the few select Nigns who'd be privileged to receive these life-changing tips & strategies WEEKLY.

Follow my Twitter handle: @hrap5050

Baltasar Gracian said,

"One of the gifts of the hero is the ablity to dwell with heroes"

N. Hill also says: one sound idea is all you need to achieve success.

It is just not epidemic but........

The issue is not just epidemic but pandemic crisis in of drug addiction and alcoholic abuse in our society today.To which, if an adequate and urgent attenion is given to this pandemic crisis of drug addiction in our society,the effect of this later in our society will be catastrophe .Our universities campus has been a dumping ground for this illegal trade.one can purchase a gram of brown stuff less than three thousand naira while a gram of white stuff is less than six thousand naira.Our nollywood stars are not exempted. I will like the authourity to pass a strick law that prohabit this illegal trade in our society and compuses. moreso, to build a rehabilitation centre to rehabilitate these drugs addicts.

FREE LIFE CAPSULES for Nigns!

I've seen a uni. student sprinkled 2 to 3 unknown substance on a rice he's to eat. He added half a bottle of olive oil & PERFUME, & then ate the concoction. When I asked why, he said he's hardly alright without such 'food'.

Youths these days brag about taking 5 or more TRAMOL (hope the spelling is right) at a go.

But those who want to contribute a lasting legacy to their societies take another type of capsules.

I've for over a decade meticulously researched & collected these boosters for Nigns.

Thanks hanney

Thanks hanney 4 dis educating article. Am a studnt in one health college and currently am writing a research project on a topic '' effect of drug abuse on our youth A case study of katsina state''. After going through ur article, i found it a very important material/data that wl hlp me alot, infact i want use it, but in order to avoid plagiarism i decided to seek ur permission first.

Re: Adobe Photoshop

@ Mr Olayele. Really? could that be because you lack the energy to
keep up? Go take a cold shower Grandpa...

wawa

u will die in you poor house without food and cloth to wear.

YES ,SHE LEFT OUT A PART OF THE STORY.

Hajia Hannatu failed to state that most of the kids like the one she used in the above piece are offsprings of northern oligarchy members who pillage our commonwealth,they can be found in Switzerland,London and cities of the USA.Their parents never suffered or worked hard to become billionaires or millionaires,they were just there because they belonged to a certain group of idiots stealing Nigeria's oil wealth.
They are very dull in class,drive posh cars,live in posh neighbourhoods,attend the most expensive schools and generally avoid normal Nigerians.While in school and working in a big expensive shop as a shopping assistant to make ends meet,I have personally seen them spend obscene amounts of money in the shop.My white manager would laugh off his head when they left and say,"they are Nigerian oil kids"he asked all workers to be polite to them whenever they called.This made me extremely angry,they gave tips worth more than my weekly pay to workers when they left.

Adobe Photoshop

The picture up there is not real.

I hate women who cover their heads. They are wild in bed.

Olusegun Olaleye

@Abdulgafar

Me frustration ke? No abdulgafar, my mission is to make believers out of Southern doubters and the fearful northerners. The only way forward for naija is a complete and total division. Believe me naija don finish, you mallams will always and forever be a ballast for us the rest .

deri

deri/sultanofsokoto, I think if u dont free ur mind frustration may at the end of the day ruin u mad. U are individual on SR that never see anything good in people excepy jelousy/hatred. May God guide U both.

Deri investment ltd

Dear DERi
Have you finished your contract with aviation ministry?Keep on with the good work is your time to CHOP.but pls don't insult our senses 8with your Jonathan no shoe crap,mr government contractor

Hannatu, represents all that

Hannatu, represents all that is wrong with the Fulani North. Its really sad to have her not think through her plans for an article B4 putting her thoughts on paper! Aware the Fulanis have been in charge of the country for over 40yrs. Spending our oil money as if there will never be a tomorrow! All the Fulani North do in 9ja these days, is to claim that its their turn to rule us come 2015! No plans to better the lot of the suffering masses in the North-the likes of the under-wear bomber whose father stole from first bank to enable him send his son abroad for studies, did not know that one day the blood money he used in training his son overseas would end him a life jail in an american prison-While poor Jonathan, attended school without shoes in d creeks, theirs were sent to boarding schools in Switzerland and London with our oil money! Time to split biko!

True Story

The epidemic of drug use as well as alcoholism is everywhere in our society today. I studied in England and i can tell you that at least 60% of young Nigerians studying abroad actively indulge in these vices. Even more saddening is the fact that a lot of them are from well to do families and have all of lifes' luxuries handed to them.

That the future leadership of this country rests in our hands is a troubling thought with the current state of we, the youth. As for what can be done to check this issue, i am at a loss.

Kudos to you the author of this article for at least bringing this issue to the public domain.

MUSAWA

thank god i did not miss this edition of your post... more news and gist here at www.gistyinka.com

Insulting Our Sensibilities

Hannatu, its OK to have a writer's block than to insult our collective sensibilities by recycling an old previously published article. Spare us our time for it is of essence. How about writing to Gov. Yero of Kaduna state and advise him to stop filling cabinet-level positions with only his Hausa/fool-anis and appoint Southern Kaduna Christians to reflect the Southern Kaduna Christian majority in his state.

Photoshop Hannatu

And how did we get here? Are you still scratching your head? okay i´ll tell you, because your kinsmen misruled and mismanaged Nigeria. Like the saying goes..he that hangs out with the dog will eventually eat shit, that is why hannatu, we all have to go our different ways.

This epidemic is real.. and I

This epidemic is real.. and I think the rich parents need to wake up before it is too late. Parents take these kinds of habits for granted and their children are becoming addicts-even girls nowadays. I am studying here in Malaysia, that is what we see all the times.

Stale

SR, this story from Hannatu Musawa is stale. It has since been published in her column in the Leadership Newspaper months ago. Please grow!

Hi Hannatu

Excellent piece as usual. Hanney,I visited your website, left you a message but it appears the site is not fully built yet. Do you want to complete it so that you can interact with your visitors.

Thumbs up

Thank you my sister for this write up, it is a refreshing departure from the usual articles on Sahara Reporters.
Another endemic drug abuse in this country especially among our youths is the use of codeine. It is so rampant here in Abuja, pharmacies are make a hell of a money selling this drug and there seems to be no effort from NAFDAC to curb this abuse.

Thank You!

Thanks, Hannatu for bringing this social problem to the limelight. The problem is accentuated due to the high unemployment rate in Nigeria. The restive & jobless youth become an easy tool for the devil's workshop.

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