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This study assessed psychoactive substance use in a private institution of learning in Nigeria with emphasis on prevalence and on medically approved substances acquiring an abuse potential. It followed an anecdotal report of the use of a cough mixture (Benylin with codeine) taking a priority attention among substances of abuse within the university community. The university has a total population of about 4,500 students and has seven colleges. Using a structured self report questionnaire, 342 (100%) students were surveyed across 5 randomly selected colleges. 323 candidates complied representing 94% reponse rate. Females 168 (52%) were over represented in the interview. The remaining 155 (48%) were males. An operational definition of abuse was drawn for this purpose to include users of a substance on a daily basis. By so doing social drinkers of alcohol and occasional users of medically approved but unprescribed medicaments for treatment purposes were excluded. For substances that do not enjoy government license to be marketed (eg. Cannabis, Heroine etc.), even a single use is regarded as abuse. Results showed that one of the traditional substances, alcohol 49 (15.2%) retained priority spot in the hierarchy of abused substances. Benylin with codeine 17 (5.3%) was next. This confirmed the verbal and unofficial report of the abuse of such medicament. Other substances of abuse were cannabis 9 (2.8%), cigarette 7 (2.2%), heroine and cocaine (0.003%). In all instances of abuse, (except for heroine which was even) males predominated. The law enforcement agencies like the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) must be sufficiently informed that substances of abuse have gone beyond the conventional substances like alcohol, cannabis, cigarette etc. Efforts must be made to regulate the sales of even some apparently harmless across the counter medications.
Key words: psychoactive, students, new challenges, prevalence.