By Kasim Sumaina
President, Freshacres Resource Centre, Mr. Otunba Ipinmisho, has said that a combination of several factors, including worrying about academic grades, fitting among peers and physical appearance, could influence teens drugs usage.
Ipinmisho, disclosed this to newsmen at a recent seminar organised by Freshacres Resource Centre, Abuja.
According to him, the purpose of the seminar was for parents to properly manage issues related to drug abuse amongst their wards. “They must look out for these red flags in order to find out if their wards are into drugs or alcohol. Though, taking a ‘red flag’ inventory requires courage, but it is the first step to positive change. These can remove blindfolds and halt manipulations.
He said, “the physical red flags are strange smells on clothes, body, breath, impaired physical coordination or speech, somnolence, (sleeping, lethargy) during the day. Pupils dilated; blood-shot eyes, excessive perspiration, jumping, rapid speech, tremors, poor hygiene or self-neglect, runny nose, lip and finger burns, freshener, gum, or breath mints used in abundance.”
Explaining further, he noted that the mental and emotional red flags associated with drugs and alcoholism among teens were: “Confusion, depression, anxiety, insomnia, memory loss, illogical thinking, forgetfulness, poor psychological adjustment which parents must handle with care.
“Parents need to watch their children more closely at the age range between 11 and 18 as it is an impressionable period when youth are especially susceptible to outside influence such as peers, family and media exposures. Also, they should help build their children’s self esteem and confidence by helping them learn different ways to say ‘no’ to drugs and reminding them that real friends would not pressure them to use drugs.”
A visiting professor, Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA), Prof. Akin Odebunmi, stated that marijuana was the most commonly abused illegal substance. “This drug impairs short-term memory and learning, the ability to focus attention, and coordination. It also increases heart rate, and can harm the lungs, and increase the risk of psychosis in those with an underlying vulnerability. “This usually used during the transition period such as transition from junior school to senior school, breaking up with friend, divorce (break up among married couples) can cause children to resort to drugs and alcohol.”
The professor of psychology said, parents need to reassure their children that things will get easier and make sure he or she knows that using drugs or drinking was not a solution. He stated that with continuous role of law enforcement agencies to help curb crime and drug abuse in the country, it is glaring that the government alone cannot fight the war against drug abuse in the country, saying that parents have a vital role to play. “If children grow up in an environment where their parents or peers drink or use drugs a lot and view drink favourably, they may tend to do so to themselves. If you choose to drink or addicted to substance use, at least, prevent your child from falling into bad judgement by doing this away from him/her.