Married women and drugs, ‘a time bomb waiting to explode’
Recently, there were reports that more number of married women are getting hooked on drugs at an alarming rate, a trend that will not augur well for their homes and families.
Mothers are supposed to be pillars of the home. They spend a lot of time with the children, shape and train them to be able to face the challenges of life. Now, imagine when such an important person is not in the right frame of mind to tackle her responsibilities and chores.
Ali Baba Mustapha, Assistant Superintendent in charge of exhibits at the Sokoto State Command of NDLEA, made this shocking revelation about the Nigerian married women’s growing addiction to codeine, recently, during the Jigawa Day celebration organised by indigenes of the state at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto State.
He said that the ugly situation has caused a systematic breakdown of the African cultural heritage and traditions, leading to many forms of crimes being perpetrated by the youth.
Zainab Baba, a civil servant in Katsina, said that at her tender age, she used to see her mother smoke cigarette at night and some times in the day time when her father was not around.
She recalled that her mother, who would be somewhat agitated before the act, used to look calm after smoking a stick of cigarette and would then resume her chores.
According to her, it took her a while to realise that the act of smoking was not good for one’s health, saying: “Immediately I got married, I started smoking the same brand of cigarette my mother used to smoke whenever I was agitated or frustrated, to help calm my nerves.”
But using drugs or cigarettes to calm one’s nerves when under pressure is not the only reason why married women engage in the use of drugs, said Mustapha.
He claimed that these group of married women use codeine and other substance to enhance their sexual drive.
But Dr Vincent Udenze, a United Kingdom-based consultant psychiatrist and the Medical Director Synapse Services, revealed that most persons addicted to substances do so to forget some ordeal they suffered in their past or younger years, or their reality.
He added that most of the patients he has received in his facility, including married women, youths and adolescents started abusing drugs to cope with their friends.
He said: “What is most disturbing is the prevalence of married women who use substance, I mean drugs, both the subtle and the hard ones, and this is determined by their status. The kind of drugs they buy will be determined by how much they can afford at that time.
“Codeine is accessible and available and can be brought off the counter by anyone since these are not regulated. Some use heroin, cocaine, cannabis and, in most cases, they have agents who supply them the products for a fee, or they patronise joints where they buy them from touts.”
One of his clients, Mrs Gladys Ume (not real name), who is presently receiving treatment, said that she found succour in drinks, especially as things were not going quite well between her and her husband.
“Things are too hard, my kids and my husband don’t understand I need some time. Once I had a few minutes to myself, I took alcohol. Now, I can’t function without it, that’s why I am seeking help.”
Dr. Vincent Udenze also attributed the increasing rate of married women using drugs to the daily pressures they face at home, saying: “Some of these women have to cope with the travails of other wives, especially those married into polygamous homes and we know dealing with the demands of such homes can be quite an ordeal.
“Others are trying to just forget a past experience that has really scared them and made them not to enjoy their matrimonial home to the fullest, some who were sexually molested when they were young find it hard to allow intercourse with their spouse because it’s a constant reminder of the ordeal they went through.”
Many experts, who have described the trend as a societal problem and worrisome, said that drugs such as heroin, amphetamine-type stimulants and over the counter drugs were increasingly being abused across the country.
Hauwa Ahmed, a businesswoman, said: “Do you think it is easy to be a woman? I am not saying that the act is good. In short, it is very bad. But the truth is that most women that go into marriages are ill prepared for it, they are not matured enough to handle all the issues that come with marriage, they think it is bed of rose.
“So when the issues, like quarrels with her husband, children and stress of keeping the home start to rear their heads they look for other alternatives to escape their realities.”
This assertion was shared by the governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who, at a forum to empower women deal with socio-economical challenges, decried the rate of divorce and how married women were improperly treated by their spouse.
He advised parents to stop marrying their daughters at an early age, saying that the young girls were ill prepared for the challenges of managing the home.
Ganduje advocated for the education of girls to empower them build their futures.
On the issue of drugs abuse, Udenze said that constant use of such substance has an adverse effect on the health of the individual.
His words: “Under the influence of any type of drugs, a person’s ability to reason and make accurate decision is impaired, and if used constantly can affect the brain cells. A person begins to feel that he or she cannot function properly without the aid of such a substance.”
The NDLEA and NAFDAC are presently collaborating to check the influx of any kind of illegal substance.
However, over-the-counter drugs meant for coughs and catarrh continues to be a problem.
Udenze said: “We need to have prescriptions for all kinds of drugs, but we don’t have such a law here. Anyone can just walk into a pharmacy and buy any kind of drugs.”
But the director-general of NAFDAC, Paul Orhi, in a recent interview, said that the agency will educate the public on the use of illicit drugs and dangers attached to counterfeits drugs.
Meanwhile, as the NDLEA said that Nigeria was a transit country for drugs, the recent survey done by the UNODC has revealed that Nigeria might actually be a consuming nation of hard drugs.
This ugly trend must be checked by the authorities to safeguard the sanctity of our families and the dignity of the woman.