The International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation

The Social And Academic Implications Of Drug Abuse

Among Undergraduates: A Case Study Of The

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Nigeria.





S.V. Kobiowu Ph.D

Faculty of Education, 

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Nigeria.    (08039212409)

Kobiowu, S.V.  (2006) The Social And Academic Implications Of Drug Abuse Amonst Undergraduates: A Case
Study of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
  International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 11 (1), 61-68





The researcher investigated the incidence of drug misuse among university undergraduates, with particular reference to Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. The study revealed that the academic pursuit of those undergraduates who engage in drug misuse is not unduly jeopardized, and that the abusers do not socialize extraordinarily, contrary to seemingly popular expectation.




The term ‘drug’ in the main, would relate to “any substance that, when taken into a living organism, may modify one or more of its functions”, while abuse’ implies “a particular application of a drug more destructive than constructive for society, or the individual”.


One may be hooked emotionally and psychologically, and may have a physical dependence, where one has a drug addiction problem, whether to a legal or illegal drug, there is a craving for it. The individual wants to use the drug again and again, and if it is stopped, there are usually unpleasant physical reactions.


While it is not everyone who uses drug that becomes addicted, many people do, (may, 2006). Drug addiction involves compulsively seeking to use a substance, regardless of the potentially negative social, psychological and physical consequences. Certain drugs, such as narcotics and cocaine, are more likely to cause physical dependence, than are other drugs, (mayo, 2006).    


Drug abuse among adolescents and young adults, which embrace university undergraduates, increased significantly in the united states of america in the late 60s and early 70s (eason, 1976). Little was known about hard drug and their usage in nigeria of the 60s. However, as far back as 1973, an expatriate staff at the university of nigeria, nsukka, reported a substance purported to be cocaine, which was used by some students, but the authenticity of the substance was not precisely established.

Soc. And acad. Implic. Of drug abuse in the late 70s, usage of cocaine and heroine became significant in nigeria. Although, the law- enforcement agencies and the government, were not aware of the development, because of the rampant use of, and emphasis on indian hemp. It was not until may 1983, when the guardian newspaper of nigeria, first related the story of the arrival of the drug known variously in the united states as ‘snow’ or ‘angel – dust’ that awareness began to rise. And this reached a crescendo between 1984 and 1985, when the federal government of nigeria promulgated a decree (d.n.20 of 1984), which prescribes death penalty for possession of hard drugs.


Drug abuse or drug dependence (as preferred by the world health organization), is defined as “ a state of psychic or physical dependence, or both on a drug, following administration of the drug on a periodic or continuous basis.” Man has long sought ways to enhance his pleasure, and to ease his discomforts. Curiosity, as one of man’s outstanding characteristics, appears early in life, and leads to extensive exploratory behaviour. It is not surprising then that, many young persons will wish to try certain drugs in order to determine their effects for themselves. Studies by okoh (1978), oduaran (1979), and johnson (1979), exhibit a plethora of purposes for which students use drugs. The list includes curiosity, boldness, friends-do–it, enjoyment of social gathering, academic pressure. Sound-sleep, sexual- prowess, and performance in sports.


Much of the research in the field of student drug abuse appears to focus on correlates of drug abuse (stanton, 1979; steffen hagen, 1980), psychological characteristics of student drug abusers (paton and kandel, 1978; wright, 1977),Soc. And acad. Implic. Of drug abuse prediction of adolescent drug abuse (robin, 1980) and treatment of adolescent drug abusers (clayton, 1980).


An area in which research is still limited is the impact of drug abuse on the social and educational perspectives of students. This study will thus address itself of this realm. Two hypotheses, which are in the null form, have been posited to guide the study, viz: there is no significant relationship between drug abuse and academic performance. There is no significant relationship between achieving social acceptance within a social setting and the act of misuse of drug. The study was limited to the use of such drugs as tranquilizers, mandrax, amphetamines, marijuana, alcohol, and caffeine-related items like kolanut and coffee.



The study was carried out in the Obafemi Awolowo University. The sample comprised 180 undergraduates of the university. Of the sample, 140 were males, and 40 females. The subjects were randomly selected. The instrument was a validated – teacher-made test, comprising a 35-item supply–response test. The questionnaire was designed to provide information on the area of concern to the study – academic and social pursuits.


The technique employed in distributing the questionnaire was stratified random sampling. The stratification was based on sex – variable male/female. For more randomness within each stratum, a random selection of rooms in each undergraduates’ hall of residence was undertakes and questionnaire forms were distributed randomly to any member of the selected rooms. The questionnaire

Soc. And acad. Implic. Of drug abuse contained items meant to elicit information on the respondents rate of drug usage, or non-drug usage.            It also contained items that could bring to light how well or otherwise the respondent was performing academically and for the purpose of the equivalent of second class lower, were regarded as high performers, while those below were regarded as low performers.



Hypothesis one posits that there is no significant relationship between drug abuse and academic performance.


The responses of the respondent are as contained in table 1.


Table 1

Table showing drug abuse and academic performance


High performance

Low performance


Drug abuser

35 (19%)

52 (23%)


Non-drug abuser

30 (17%)

63 (41%)






N= 180

The data were subjected to further analysis, using the chi-square statistic, as presented in table 2.


Table 2

Chi-square comparison of drug  abuse and academic performance


























                                                                                                                                                    Xc = 1.24

P>  0.05 (*not significant)


Since the calculated value is less than the tabled, it follows that there is no significant relationship between the academic performance of users and the non-abusers. Thus, the hypothesis postulated for the study is upheld.


Hypothesis two postulates that there is no significant relationship between drug abuse and social association. Table 2 shows the responses of the subjects in relation to social association.



Table 3

Drug abuse and social association


Strong association

Weak association


Drug abuser

65 (36%)

41 (23%)


Non-drug abuser

45 (25%)

29 (16%)







The data were further subjected to chi-square statistic for further analysis, at 0.05 level of significance.


Table 4

Chi-square comparison of drug abuse and social association









7.72 x 10-4





1.12 x 10-3





1.21 x 10-3





1.74 x 10-3


                                                                                           Xc= 1.24

     P  >  0.05 (*not significant)


Since the chi – square calculated is less than chi-square tabled, it follows that there is no significant relationship between drug abuse and undue social association.



The result of the analysis in respect of hypothesis one appears a little surprising. One would have expected that the academic performance of drug abusers would be substantially hampered, for holister (1971) found that marijuana, like most other hard drugs, altered time sense, decreased auditory discrimination, results in difficulty in concentration, and brings about impairment of ability in some psychometric tests, especially those that are related to the manipulation of numbers. West (1972) discovered that a significant percentage of regular users are adversely affected in terms of mental health; while miller, (1974) and makinde, (1974) found that amphetamines increase the availability of no adrenaline at the nerve cell connections. Also cohen (1978) discovered that flashbacks of lsd state are dangerous; while juman (1981) found that morphine and tranquilizers, analgesics and sedatives, may precipitate hepatic encepahalogphy, possibly as a result of increased brain sensitivity to centrally acting drugs. Lastly, lesters (1977) also found that alcohol increased errors with marginal slowing of reaction time.


The result of hypothesis two is equally a little surprising. The ‘popular’ impression one has is that those who are on hard drugs tend to have strong social association, relative to their non-drug user counterparts. But the study revealed that the relationship is not statically significant. This thus, in a way, belies the logical reasoning that the degree of intoxication, due to drug, is highly related to sociability.

Soc and acad. Implic. Of drug abuse


 Harmatz’s (1973) discovery that such drugs like marijuana tend to make the user moody, anxious and impulsive corroborates this finding. Also, other findings indicate poor social adjustment on the part of the user; typified by elevated situational hostility, (mirin, 1973), and a preference for passive life styles and low “purpose – in life” scores, (sheen, 1972).


Nature has tried very hard to protect the brain, and messing around with drugs can change the way the brain works naturally. When one takes drugs, parts of the brain start to disagree on what to do, and that creates a big problem. The brain can solve problems, be creative, be logical, make plans, make wise decisions, and do almost anything else one can think of. All parts of the brainwork together, to keep us healthy, intelligent and happy (drug enforcement administration, 2006).


Conclusions and recommendations

The following conclusion emanate from the results of this study, that there is no significant relationship between drug abuse and academic performance; that there is no sign if cant relationship between drug abuse and social association; that though drug might be a necessary condition for sociability, it is not a sufficient condition. The result of this study not–withstanding, the harmful effects of drug abuse cannot be overemphasized. The abuser might justify the practice by positing that it helps in lifting mood, induces confidence and suppresses worries and anxiety. But these feelings are ephemeral, and totally out of tune with reality, and can lead to lethal consequences, in the sense that heart functioning and breathing can be severely depressed, thereby causing death.


In order to really help the situation, the government should have a well- defined comprehensive and realistic policy on control of drugs.  This policy should include establishing a federal drug control centre, under the auspices of the ministries of health and internal affairs, which will collate information on drug use, and liaise with similar smaller units, to be based in each state. Public education should be targeted at the vulnerable segment of society, such as the older children, adolescent and young adults. Such educational measures should be carefully presented through methods that avoid threats and dramatization. Also, parents and school authorities should carefully warn their children against the destructive effects of these drugs. Any realistic attempt aimed at dealing with the issue of drug abuse must enjoy adequate multidisciplinary deliberation. Any law, which is deigned to control drug abuse behaviour, must embrace suggestions from the country’s relevant professional bodies such as psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, youth and welfare officers, counselors, educationists, ministry of health officials and law enforcement agents.



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