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ASSESSMENT OF SUBSTANCE USE AMONG MILITARY PERSONNEL IN KADUNA STATE
Indiscipline and rampant clashes between forces personnel with frequent „accidental discharge‟ observed among military personnel are often associated with drugs. Drugs are known to have the potency of effecting changes in the perception, feelings and behavior of living organisms. Of more paramount is the use of social drugs referred to as recreational drugs which has become a problem among military personnel in Nigeria of which formations in Kaduna State are part. This study therefore, sought to make an assessment of substance use among military personnel in Kaduna State. The assessment was carried out with the aid of a structured questionnaire, designed by the researcher. The constructed questionnaire was administered to some selected military personnel in five formations within the state through a proportionate random sampling procedure. In all, 644 personnel were involved in the study. Data collected were analyzed using frequencies and percentages, means and standard deviations. The hypotheses were tested with one sample t-test. From the analysis of the data it was found that there are psychoactive substances that are commonly used by military personnel in Kaduna State. Such substances included among others Alcohol and marijuana. That the sources for the psychoactive substances used by military personnel are substantially established to include friends, pharmaceutical outlets, drug patent stores and drug hawkers. And that military personnel take psychoactive substances for some assumed reasons that included the general perception among military personnel that substance use generally enhances performances, that drugs help personnel recover from a hard workout more quickly, help personnel to avoid depression and any form of prolong anxiety and help to eliminate tiredness. It was found that the personnel were aware of the adverse effects which included: cardiovascular diseases, physical pains, restlessness, impaired vision and mental disability among others. Based on the findings it was recommended that periodic orientation on the adverse effects of psychoactive substances use be embarked upon to sensitized personnel on the wrong notion held about advantages of such usages and that effort should be made at discouraging drug hawkers from all military formations in the state as well as enforcement of regular physical activities and recreation to reduce anxiety and prevent psychologically induced stress.
The word drug has acquired bad connotations in recent years, because the widespread use of few chemicals that affect the central nervous system (CNS) has become a serious sociological problem. Drugs act on many organs in the body, they have benefits as well as harmful effects in the body and in the way diseases are treated. From the early time, man learned to use drugs to cure diseases, treat various types of ailments, fight infections and reduce pains. With the passage of time man discovered the properties of certain drugs which he later capitalized on in life. Drug and alcohol use have historically been common among military personnel. Drugs have been used by soldiers to reduce pain, lessen fatigue, and increase alertness or to help them cope with boredom or panic that accompany battle. During the U.S. Civil War, medical use of opium resulted in addiction among some soldiers. In the modern U.S. military, drug use become a recognized problem during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 70s. Approximately 20 percent of Vietnam War veterans reported having used narcotics (heroin, opium), on a weekly basis, and 20 percent also were considered to be addicted based on reported symptoms of dependence (Robin, Helzer, & Davis, 1975). Although few personnel continued using heroin when they returned home, there were concerns about addiction.
Similar to drug use, heavy drinking in the military has been an accepted custom and tradition (Bryant, 2008; Schuckit, 2008). In the past, alcohol was thought to be a necessary item for subsistence and morale and, as such, was provided as a daily ration to sailors and soldiers. Within the predominantly male U.S. military population, heavy drinking and being able to “hold one‟s liquor” have served as tests “of suitability for the demanding masculine military role” (Bryant, 1974& Wertsch 1991). A common stereotype has been to characterize hard-fighting soldiers as hard-drinking soldiers. Alcoholic beverages have been available to military personnel at reduced prices at military outlets and until recently during “happy hours” at clubs on military installations (Bryant, 1974, & Wertsch, 1991). In addition, alcohol has been used in the military to reward hard work, to ease interpersonal tensions, and to promote unit cohesion and camaraderie. As peace-keeping mission became popular, manufacturers of drugs started to produce highly potent drugs often with dangerous side effects, to improve performances. Misuse of substances among military personnel, were widespread particularly at the time of the Second World War. Davidson &Neale (1996), further revealed that drugs were administered to soldiers during the Second World War to reduce fatigue. Nevertheless, Mottram (1999) stated that ancient soldiers used stimulants to enhance their physical performance, describing the use of caffeine and alcohol by soldiers between the middle of the nineteenth century and advent of the Second World War. The author concluded that the development of amphetamine stimulants drugs reached its peak around the time of the Second World War, when drugs were administered on combat troops to enhance their mental awareness and delay the onset of fatigue.
Alcohol and other drug use in the armed forces remain unacceptably high, constitute a public health crises and both are detrimental to force readiness and psychological fitness. Although attention tends to be concentrated on the illicit spread and use of heroin, cocaine and cannabis, there is also a vast global trade in legal recreational drugs like tobacco and alcohol, as well as products tranquillizers and hypnotics which have legitimate medical uses but which are also drugs of abuse and dependence (Bryant, 1974, & Wertsch, 1991) .
Just as there is no health benefit without potential toxicity, there is no absolute goodness about drugs. However, their enormous health benefits outweigh the drawbacks in individual cases. There is however, no known drug that is not harmful or even poisonous at high doses, and much of the scientific work on drugs has attempted to widen the gap between effective and toxic doses. Drugs therefore, can affect changes in the perception, feelings and behavior of the organism. The kind and extent of these changes depend on the nature of the ingested substances, the amount present in the body at any point in time, the route and speed of administration, the physiological characteristics and current physiological state of the individual, the physical and social setting when the substance is ingested, the reason(s) it is taken and what changes the substance is expected to make in the feeling of the individual.
In spite of the many different prevention efforts, including drug test, drug education, stronger policies established by interest groups across the globe, social drugs referred to as recreational drugs continued to be used among military personnel in Nigeria which is the concern of this study. The study therefore, sought to make an assessment of substance use among military personnel in Kaduna state.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Given the current military presence maintained by Nigeria throughout the country, the soldier receives much media attention and public interest. This noble position could not explain why those in the military engage in drugs use. Previous literatures have focused on the relationship between military training and crime, including the desensitizing and traumatic effects of killing in combat as well as indulging in such activities. Others have focused on the need to distinguish themselves from the civilian and the always imminent violence perception of the military. Apart from their vintage position as the control of the means of violence and in fact with absolute monopoly of such control, the military is of vital importance to the organization of the Nigerian society.
Goffman (1991) described a “total institution” as an institution where all parts of life for individuals in the institution are subordinated to and dependent upon the authorities of the institution. Both by definition and by direct reference from Goffman (1991), the military can be considered a total institution. Should a person reside in such a system, it encompasses his or her whole being. It undercuts the resident‟s individuality. It disregards his or her dignity. It subjects the individual to a regimented pattern of life that has little or nothing to do with the persons‟ own desires or inclinations. If we accept the military as a total institution, then we must consider the substantial effect it potentially has on the people who serve. The topic of military personnel and involvement in drugs is especially important given the current public concern regarding security challenges in the country and the act among military personnel, during deployment. The media has given a great deal of attention to incidents such as the rape charges against Marines and Army soldiers while deployed to different states and murder charges against soldiers wrongfully killing civilians in combat (Tedeschi, & Lawrence 1996).
It makes intuitive sense to think that an institution that inherently deals with violence through training and exposure might lead to unsanctioned violence among its members, thereby making the military personnel have the perception that they can live by different sets of rules. Though the crimes on humanity may or may not be connected to substance use among the military personnel but they negate the principle of humanitarian service delivery by the military. This study was therefore to investigate the extent of substance use by the military in Kaduna State towards establishing the relatedness to their behaviours.
1.3 Research Questions
This study sought to provide answers to the following specific research questions:
- From what sources do the military personnel obtain psychoactive substances in Kaduna State?
- Which psychoactive substances are most frequently used by the military personnel in Kaduna State?
- What are their primary reasons for use of identified psychoactive substances in Kaduna State?
- What effects of these identified psychoactive substances have on the military personnel in Kaduna State?
- What is the effect do drug use on the service delivery of the military personnel in Kaduna State?
1.4 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to assess substance use among military
personnel in Kaduna state. The specific purposes of the study are to determine the
- Whether there are sources where the military personnel obtain their drugs in Kaduna State.
- Which psychoactive substance is frequently used by the military personnel in Kaduna State.
- The reasons for use of identified psychoactive substance in Kaduna State.
4 Whether the psychoactive substances used affect the military personnel in Kaduna
The effect of psychoactive substances on the military personnel service delivery in
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of the study would be beneficial as follows:-
The findings of this study may motivate health administrators and drug testing institution to make policies geared towards preventing the sources through which psychoactive substances are obtained.
Recommendations from this study may inspire health educators to carry out campaigns on the effects of drug use on individuals and their services.
The study may help the general community to understand the effects of drug use on the society through publication of its findings.
Based on the research questions, one major hypothesis and four sub – hypotheses were formulated for the purpose of this study:
Psychoactive substance use by the military personnel do not significantly affect their service delivery in Kaduna State.
- There are no significant sources for obtaining psychoactive substances by military personnel obtain in Kaduna State.
- Psychoactive substances are not significantly used by the military personnel in Kaduna State.
- There are no significant reasons for use of psychoactive substances by the military personnel in Kaduna State.
- Psychoactive substances have no significant effects on the military personnel in Kaduna State.
1.7 Basic Assumption
On the basis of research evidence, the following basic assumptions were made for the purpose of this study.
That marijuana is the most commonly used substance among the military personnel in Kaduna State.
that military personnel obtain their drugs at the counter in Kaduna State.
That military personnel indulge in the use of psychoactive substance as a result of stress and boredom.
This study is delimited to Psychoactive substances used among the military personnel in the Nigerian army who were serving in Kaduna State.