I wonder how many people watched the video that made the rounds this week about a naked couple that were found wandering around the Victoria Garden City ( VGC) Estate in Lagos. As the story goes, the security operatives in the high brow estate happened upon the couple around 11 pm on Sunday 12 June 2022. They were stopped to know whether they were indeed residents of the estate to which they replied they were and that the security men were welcome to follow them to their house. Apparently, they were staying in the boy’s quarters of one of the houses in the estate, which was let out as Airbnb. The security kept an eye on the apartment but after a while they broke down the door to find the couple in a pool of blood with their necks and wrists slit. Interestingly, they were said to have told the shocked onlookers that they believed that if they died they would rise again in three days.
They were subdued, sedated and bundled to the hospital where it was revealed that they had ingested some drugs. A close search of the BQ where they resided revealed narcotics specifically Colorado, Canadian Loud, Crystal Meth, Flakka, etc. Further investigation revealed that the girl who is an African American came into the country sometime in October last year to “experience the 5th dimension with the guy”.
I watched the video and my first thought seeing the gaunt looking couple was that they were performing a ritual especially as they were calm as they walked stark naked hand in hand. When I read of the suicide pact and their bizarre beliefs, I knew without a shadow of doubt that they were on drugs.
We must admit that we have huge drug problem in our country. Things have rapidly graduated from codeine, tramadol, glue sniffing, and weed to meth labs which formulate synthetic poison to ensnare the users. I am aware that drugs are being served a la carte at house parties, being baked in the chocolatey goodness called brownies and are being sold everywhere including our private religious based universities.
Also closely followed by the drug problem is the huge drinking problem evolving as people tend to drink themselves to stupor nowadays. The presence of the red plastic cups at majority of the events are a testimony to the fact that we are becoming largely dependent on alcohol. It was barely some years ago that we were celebrated as the world’s largest consumers of champagne but whiskey, brandy, etc seem to have taken over and are being consumed in large quantities especially by the youth. I shudder to think of the many liver issues that await most young people in their old age and the many Go-fund-me campaigns we may be forced to contribute to as a result of liver cirrhosis.
Looming large also is an increasing gambling addiction as seen in the establishment of many lottery companies which seem to offer people a seemingly easy way to escape the clutches of poverty whilst ensnarring them further.
The truth about addictions is that anyone can become addicted to anything ranging from alcohol to prescription painkillers, to drugs to gambling, food, coffee, sex, shopping, etc. Addiction is defined by the MiriamWebster dictionary “as a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behaviour or activity having harmful physical, psychological or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremours, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence and a strong inclination to do, use, or indulge in something repeatedly”.
If there is anything I dread it is the drug and alcohol addiction. Although all addictions are bad, these two addictions have a place of honour in the vices that have led many down the path of destruction and death.They destroy not only the lives of the users but that of everyone that loves them and the public at large.
I don’t know what drives people to drugs and alcohol but a lot of it is found in the genes, mental health disorders, an enabling environment, the age at which the user starts to take the drugs/ alcohol, the restlessness and idleness of the youth, trauma, peer pressure, stress and a sense of adventure amongst other causes. People can become addicts at any age. We have babies becoming addicted to drugs from their mother’s womb and old people becoming addicted to pain reliving medication such as Morphine in old age. Some people can ingest drugs or imbibe alcohol in large quantities and regularly and not get addicted to them, whilst another person can take a swig and begin the downward trend of addiction.
Addiction is a serious disease and it is largely misunderstood because for those of us who are not addicted, we wonder why people will become addicts in the first place and why they don’t have the will power or motivation to say, ‘No’ to the pull of their addiction. It is said that addictions are complex diseases and that they affect mainly the brain by causing neurological effects that make the victims helpless to stop even though they hate their addictions and the person they have become by reason of their habit.
It is true that, initially, the victims make a choice to use the drug or give in to the binge to eat, gamble etc but after some time that choice becomes compulsory. The truth is that addictions hide something that the victim may or may not even be consciously aware of and many a time victims engage in their addictions not only to get a good feeling but to ensure that the good feeling lasts for longer and longer and the bad times few and in between.
An addiction does not form spontaneously overnight. Instead, it is the result of a long process of repeated abuse that gradually changes how an individual sees what they are addicted to and how their body reacts to it. It is widely agreed that there are several stages that lead to addictions namely:-
Initiation- When the person comes into contact with their habit. Some may initially loathe the experience and some may take to it like duck to water.
Experimentation – At the experimentation stage, the user has moved past simply trying the drug or habit on its own and is now taking the drug in different contexts especially socially to see how it impacts their life.
Regular Use- The use of the substance or habit or pattern of behavior becomes normalized and more regular. Eg the person makes coffee as soon as they wake up, takes a drink or two before they sleep.
Risky Usage- The victim gets more and more daring and adventurous with their habit which is constantly on their minds.
Dependence- The victim believes that without that habit they cannot function well and the body also begins to crave whatever it is that has made it relaxed, de-stressed and happy.
We have a lot to do as a society to ensure that drug and alcohol addictions are reduced as it will eventually affect us if we choose to ignore it. We or our children may end up becoming victims of the user who may kill, steal or maim to support their habit:
We can help by checking with some of these pointers:
- Being more attentive to those around us especially the youth as peer pressure is a real cause of addictions.
- Replacing the joy gotten from the habit with other soul building things such as sports, volunteering etc to redirect their energies in other ways.
- Communal parenting so that our communities remain safe as what affects one child would likely affect our children.
- Questioning the source of people’s wealth. A lot of people masquerading as business men are actually drug carriers and merchants.
- Talking to our children about the disadvantages of being addicted
- Seeking help from the professionals when we suspect or become aware of an addiction.
The truth is that addictions can be cured but the road to healing is a long, windy and torturous one and involves the willing and active participation of the victim.