The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a drug as “any substance or product that is used or intended to be used to modify or explore physiological system or pathological states for the benefit of the recipient” (WHO Technical Report series 1966: No, 341).
Nkwocha, Onyemerekeya, Ekeada, Ogwudire and Emenogu (1997:115) state that “a drug is a chemical which when used, influences or modifies the physiological activities of the body…. Hard drugs are conceived as powerful chemicals that alter perception of the self, of others and in some cases of the environment”.
From the foregoing definitions, we can deduce that drugs are substances that we require to regulate and normalize the functions of our bodies whenever there is a disorder. Drugs are able to effect changes in our body functions because they are potent chemicals. This fact suggests that any wrong usage is capable of causing unprecedented harm to the entire system.
Drugs are said to be abused when they are taken without professional medical guidance. Ekenwa (1995), cited by Nkwocha (1997: 115), defines drug abuse as the illegal self-administration of drugs, narcotics, chemicals and other substances to the possible detriment of the individual, the society or both. Drugs that are abused are usually the ones that produce the desired effect rapidly. Examples are pain-killers or analgesics, tranquillizers and sleeping tablets and some quick-acting antibiotics. It has been estimated that between one-third and one-half of all those who take these minor tranquillizers regularly each day for three months or more are likely to become psychologically dependent on them (A Guide to Family Health: 1983).
Drugs that are abused fall into two broad categories: (1) the socially accepted or prescription drugs, some of which have been mentioned above, and (2) controlled substances or hard drugs, which are illegal and socially unacceptable.
Whenever we discuss drug abuse and its dangers, we focus more on the hard drugs because of their obvious negative effects on the body. However, because they are more readily available, cheaper and more socially acceptable, prescription drugs have more widespread negative impacts on the populace.
Many elderly persons are living in misery and agony today because of the harm they inflicted on their bodies through the years by wrong use of various drugs. Ordinary pain-relievers taken excessively over a long period have been implicated in such serious ailments as kidney problems, liver failure, and other organic and systemic dysfunctions.
Young people can make up their minds not to fall into the same trap. Learn to avoid taking drugs except when it is absolutely necessary. For instance, rather than swallow two tablets of analgesics as soon as you notice a headache, you can drink a lot of water and give yourself enough rest. The headache will most likely disappear by the time you wake up from a sound sleep. Other home remedies abound which can take care of various ailments: a 10ml spoon of palm oil for cough and sleeplessness, coconut water for restlessness and weakness, consumption of a lot of vegetables and fruits to ease abdominal problems, and so on. Try to use these harmless methods first before patronizing the drug sellers.
For teenagers, there is a temptation to use some chemical-based formulations and pharmaceutical products for aesthetic reasons. Some are used to make the face smooth and beautiful, others to help attain a desired shape and weight. Still others are taken with the hope that they will make the hair grow and look more beautiful and luxuriant. Young people must be careful not to fall for all these fads. As much as possible, use simple natural remedies to wash the hair and face. Avocado pear and Aloe Vera are very good for both hair and facial beauty. Chemicals can provide quick action but may destroy your body eventually.
Young people must learn to appreciate the way they are and not look for unnecessary chemical remedies that may be dangerous to their health. Tranquillizers appeal to a great proportion of the human populace because of their quick action in relieving the stresses and anxieties of everyday living. God created sleep as a natural healing process during which lost energy is restored, the mind is put at ease, and the whole body is invigorated in readiness for the next day’s activities. The inability to sleep is therefore a serious health problem. It can disorganize and disorient a person and may ultimately lead to mental illness.
The gravity of the problems associated with sleeplessness underlines the desirability of tranquillizers and sleeping pills. It is important to note that even though these drugs act fast to relax the body and produce sleep, they are made up of dangerous chemicals which act by depressing the central nervous system. Prolonged usage of these chemicals leads to undesirable consequences, including dependence on the drugs. When this happens, such people cannot sleep without taking the pills.
Thus, rather than take sleeping pills as soon as insomnia sets in, a more reasonable and healthy approach would be to trace the real cause of the problem, and tackle it appropriately. Most often, sleeplessness is as a result of emotional or spiritual problems. If the problem is emotional, the individual who experiences sleeplessness will be able to know what is making his or her mind restless. The next thing would be to talk to someone about the problem as frankly as possible. Talking to the right person – someone who respects confidentiality, and can give good counsel – will help to relieve the mind.
Before going for external help, however, try applying some of these suggestions: (1) Take a bath before going to bed; (2) Wear loose clothes to maximize blood circulation; (3) Eat light foods that are tolerated by your body, and are easily digested before going to bed. Try not to eat late in the night; (4) If sleep refuses to come, do not fret about it. Try reading a novel or any book you enjoy reading. You can also engage in any activity you like doing rather than just lying down and thinking about your sleeplessness; (5) Take several deep breaths. They help to relax the muscles and may induce sleep; (6) Learn to unload your mind of the stresses of the day at the place of prayer and quiet meditation; (7) Form the habit of exercising your body every evening or night before going to bed. Exercise generally enhances sleep; and (8) Drink a lot of water. It makes the body processes work better and when the body processes are in harmony, sleep comes naturally