When young people see their favourite celebrities engage in certain activities, they get the urge to try it out as well. In the case of drugs and substance usage, fans of public figures who are users or promoters of drugs are at a higher risk of exploring it themselves. With 14.3 million Nigerians using illicit drugs and 3 million people in the country suffering from drug use disorder, it is safe to say Nigeria has an epidemic of drug use.
Here are five major things we’ve seen Nigerian celebrities do that promote substance abuse.
Taking pictures with alcohol and drugs
A common trend among Nigerian hip-hop stars is to take pictures while smoking tobacco or pose with expensive bottles of alcohol. Some of these pictures are used as their music cover art which is eventually circulated online. One might argue that they should be allowed to do what suits them, but these acts are capable of leading their young fans to believe that substance use is ‘cool’ and a sign of wealth.
Producing songs with lyrics supporting substance intake
Popular songs condoning the use of addictive substances can influence teenagers to take alcohol and drugs for the first time, leading to mental and health issues. A typical example is a song titled, ‘Shayo’ which was released in 2008 with the lyrics, ‘nothing do you because you dey shayo, nothing do me because I dey shayo!’ What message does this leave an innocent young audience? You guessed right.
Making musical videos featuring illicit drugs
Many Nigerian musical videos showcase substances like alcohol and drugs which could entice teenagers who view them. In Davido’s ‘Fans Mi’ the visuals show him sealing a deal to supply cocaine in exchange for a suitcase filled with money. Following the success of that deal, he returns to his abode, where he is welcomed by ladies who help him arrange more cocaine. With the high poverty and unemployment rate in Nigeria, it is very easy for people to conclude that drug trafficking is an option worth exploring to make money.
Taking drugs publicly
Some famous Nigerian music artistes have a substance abuse problem. As a result, they cannot help but use these substances in public, either for fun or to satisfy their cravings. When adolescents witness such behaviours, they can be tempted to try it out as well.
Promoting drug-related slangs
Through the constant use of drug-related slang/phrases like ‘Shisha’ in their music, movies, and everyday life, Nigerian music stars further promote drug intake. ‘Shisha’’ is another slang that has been popularised and normalised following the release of a song, ‘Science Student’, with that phrase in its lyrics.
If Nigerian celebrities hold themselves to higher standards and stand as change advocates by leading with a positive lifestyle, they will definitely impact the lives of young Nigerians and discourage first-time drug users as MTN Foundation is doing with its Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP).
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