Trying to understand the use of drugs by women farmers in Nigeria's Adamawa State

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A national survey on drug use in Nigeria published in 2019 shows that approximately 14.3 million Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 65 have used psychoactive substances for non-medical purposes. One in four drug users is a woman.

We conducted research into drug use among women farmers in Adamawa state in northeastern Nigeria. These women are involved in growing food crops such as corn, beans, and rice.

We wanted to find out if they used drugs to improve their agricultural livelihoods. We also wanted to understand the implications for health and their relationships in the community.

We used data from interviews and observations with 50 people, including farmers, business people who work in agriculture, civil servants, as well as artisans and unemployed young people. One clear observation that it found was that more women were becoming the breadwinners of the household and that this meant that they were under great pressure.

To cope with the stresses of agriculture and improve productivity, some used psychotropic stimulants. These change the function of the nervous system and lead to changes in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition or behavior. The most commonly used substances were cannabis and tramadol because of their affordability and availability.

The study recommended that the Adamawa state government set up a rehabilitation center for addicts in the state. We have also recommended that all parties involved pay serious attention to women in the state.

Agriculture in Adamawa State

Over 60% of farmers in Adamawa state are women. You work in the land as an owner or as hired help. Some are both: they own land and can also be hired to work on someone else’s farm.

There are several reasons women try to make a living from the countryside. One is increasing poverty. The 2019 report on poverty and inequality in Nigeria published by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that over 75% of the population of Adamawa state were poor.

The state was only better than Sokoto State (87.73%), Taraba State (87.72%), Jigawa State (87.02%), and Ebonyi (79.76%). The population group most affected are women. One way to deal with poverty is to take up agricultural activities and support their families.

The use of substance abuse is not new in the region. An increase in drug and substance abuse was a major driver behind the passing of the Adamawa State Unclassified (Local Substance) Abuse Act in 2015. Unfortunately, the law did not achieve its intended drug abuse reduction.

What we found

Women on the research team conducted interviews with women farmers and drug sellers.

They asked general questions to find out why women are more likely to earn a living in agriculture than in any other way. The interviewers also asked why the respondents were involved in drug use.

Questions were also asked about what kind of drugs or substances were used and what effect they had.

Over 60% of respondents said drug use is a widespread phenomenon among women farmers in Adamawa state. About 36% disagreed with this view.

Only four of the respondents talked about the use of drugs and substances.

One farmer who answered these questions said, “We are human. No matter how strong we are, we still get tired when we work, especially when it is a tedious and arduous job like farming. We have to take something (like Drugs or substances)) to avoid fatigue quickly and get our work done immediately. “

While there will be health and social consequences of drug use among these women farmers, it is very difficult to track them. This is because data are generally not available in Adamawa state, particularly on mental health and mental health issues.

Next Steps

We have recommended that the establishment of a rehabilitation center by the state government should make a major contribution to the support of drug addicts. Adamawa state law banning drug addiction and recommending the establishment of a rehabilitation center was passed in 2015. This law has come into force, but the rehabilitation center has yet to be set up.

Empowering women by training them in professional skills and starting small businesses is also recommended. This is necessary because women have become strong economic actors in the state.

Almost a third of young Americans prescribed psychotropic drugs admit to having abused them

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