Drug Use: What You Don’t See

Submitted By Ete-Obong - Calabar South

It is hard to understand or appreciate what an addict goes through if you have never been addicted to anything, be it drugs, sex, food or alcohol. 

Most people do not understand or see reasons why or how drug users become addicted. They may wrongly think that those who use drugs are delinquents or lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to or if they are pressured by loved ones. Drug use changes a person mentally, physically and socially in such a ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. People who use drugs or alcohol do so for various reasons. Some are influenced by peer groups or social affiliation, others like, me just started off with drugs out of curiosity and to experiment. Therefore, you would only understand or handle a drug user if you understand the reasons for use, the environment and user social mix. I don’t smoke I do ‘crack’, and never in public just in my closet so no one suspects I am a drug user. I keep track of what I take, when I take it and how much I take. For over 10 years I have maintained this habit. I am reserved so it’s very difficult to imagine me with drugs. I drink sparingly and not in public because I represent an outstanding business firm. 

Who can honestly say that they don’t use drugs? I’m not necessarily talking about illegal drugs, like marijuana but alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, codeine and aspirin are all drugs. However, the way drugs are spoken of in our society is hugely problematic. Not all drug users are problematic, like me for instance. Legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol are responsible for deaths as much as illegal drugs each year, one might argue even more so. People like me need help and want to come out and not to be stigmatised or seen as criminals. Being a drug user is a psychological problem and being seen as problematic is just as psychologically demeaning as the problems associated with usage. And what people don’t see is how much users want to stop, how much we want to be able to speak out and get help, how much we wish we never had that first drag or sniff.

These substances damage the brain and cause a lot of mental and physical health problems. There should be continuous awareness on the effects and impact especially in schools. Drug education should enjoy a face-off just as much as HIV and ebola do. I am able to manage my situation now because I can afford the “good stuff” and I am able to hide my identity but I cannot speak for the future. However, there are others who cannot and need help. I want to stop the use of this substance and get clean but this comes with a lot of fears that I do not know if I am ready to face.