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Background: Adolescence is characterized by thrill-seeking and looking for new experiences which are often accompanied with experimentation with substance use and testing boundaries with its attendant consequences.
Aim: The aim of this study is to provide an overview of the prevalence levels, pattern and types of abused substances in Lokoja metropolis and provide valuable information for stakeholders.
Study Design: This was a cross-sectional, descriptive study carried out among adolescents In Lokoja Metropolis of Kogi State, Nigeria.
Place and Duration of Study: The study was carried out in Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria from June to September 2018.
Methodology: A questionnaire-based study using a simple random sampling method to select respondents.
Results: A total of one hundred and sixty four questionnaires were administered after assent from the respondents and signed consent from parents or guardians. The respondents who were made up of 90 males and 74 females, 44 respondents fell between the age category of 10-13, 38 and 82 respondents fell within the categories of 14-16 and 17- 19 respectively. Of these respondents, 5 were educated to primary school level, 129 to secondary level, 27 of them to tertiary level and 3 of them had no formal education at all. The use of illicit drugs appeared to be increasing with age, for male respondent, 6.9% for ages 10-13, 14.2% for ages 14-16 and 32.5% for ages 17 to 19, among the female respondents same pattern was observed 0%, 11.76% and 11.9 % respectively for the same age categories. Furthermore, the use of illicit drug was more prevalent in males than in females, the prevalence rate for males was 20% and 9.46% in females. Overall, peer pressure was found to have the most influence among adolescents who use illicit substances and marijuana was found to be the most abused drug by adolescents in the metropolis, 46.67% in males, and 32.43% in females. However, the rate of abuse of codeine and non-codeine based cough syrups among females was also found to be higher and almost at par with marijuana 31.08%. Although there was a significant statistical relationship between age and drug abuse in males with a p-value of 0.024151 at p < 0.05, the relationship was not significant among females.
Conclusion: The abuse of marijuana being the most abused drug by adolescents in the metropolis, 46.67% in males, and 32.43% in females in addition to the abuse of new substances especially the high rate of codeine and non-codeine based cough syrups among females is an important finding with far reaching public health consequences. There is the need for increased awareness on the harmful physical, mental and social effects of substance abuse and stricter enforcement of drug laws and regulations to protect adolescents.