Growing up, Nollywood movies were my daily entertainment and frankly the source of education for many topics in Nigerian households, especially on issues I could rarely discuss with my very Nigerian parents. However, I have had to unlearn a lot of the things that I learnt from Africa Magic and “home videos,” one of which is my perception of drug and substance abuse.
I used to think that doing “hard drugs” was for only robbers, and street thugs; people that genuinely wanted to and made that decision for themselves. Years later, I realise that people see it as an escape and so go in search of it. Sadly, many fall victim to a first time dabble and end up with an addiction. The thing is, recreational drugs being all the rave, it can easily accessible and dirt cheap. Everyone can get them! But nobody should.
You know that “baked” cake at a party or the mixed drink that they swear will only give you a “kick” and help you dance better? That could be a gateway drug to wanting even stronger, harder stuff. That may not be your initial intention, but it is so easy to lose grip of control when it comes to using drugs.
Our bodies are vastly different from each other. What one body can tolerate, another probably cannot. And so, a “party drug” can become a lifelong mistake. Another thing Nollywood probably exaggerated is the quickness and short-lived way in which drugs may end or affect life. They make it seem like one shot of only a hard drug leads to a quick spiral and then immediate psychosis.
One thing I have learnt from my study of psychotherapy is that, in reality, it is way worse, more complicated and more complex than that. In reality, you don’t realize you’ve gone too far until you already have. From getting high to maintaining that high, your body wants to keep climbing and actually becomes immune to that substance intoxication. And so, you keep looking for more psychoactive drugs to top the last one. There are so many cases that start with passing a blunt with friends or popping one pill, that just leads to a lifelong downward spiral.
Drug sensitization in Nigeria is at a ridiculously low level, and drug rehabilitation, even more so. We actually have functioning centres to deal with drug related morbid mental dysfunction (meaning mental illness as a result of drug use) but people don’t know that they can get the help they need. Support groups, rehab meetings, rehab programs and skill development are available for people who have unfortunately fallen into the holds.
My little note to you is that a temporary high is just not worth the continuous turmoil of a drug problem. And if you need to, please seek help.