The results indicate a mix feelings towards drugs abuse with very bad, bad and normal at the top which is very encouraging and at the same time discouraging in the fight and total elimination of the menace in the society especially among the children the very last hope of all families, communities and nations. Regarding the phenomenon as evil in the society concurs with the public possess a negative attitude towards dependents, Low, W. et al., (1995)33. Attitudes towards drug addicts or who use it were largely negative and unsympathetic, and were characterized by fear and a desire to avoid such individuals, Bryan, A. et al., (2000)10. Illicit drug use is a classic example of social deviance, and most of the available literature suggest that those engaged in such brand of social deviance are perceived in a negative light by society at large, Young (1987) as quoted in Bryan, A. et al., (2000)10. The stigma associated with substance use in South Africa is high and not necessarily dependent on the drug choice. However, a range of factors, including gender of substance user, and ethnicity of rater, may impact on stigma, Sorsdah, K. et al., (2012)67.
Equally, viewing the phenomenon as normal in the society in light of the unprecedented developments taking place nearly everywhere concurs with adolescents’ involvement in drug abuse and selling of drugs routinely is regarded as natural, Filho, F. E.A. et al., (2015)20. Substance initiation is viewed as a normal adolescent behavior that is expected to produce pleasurable physical and psychoactive effects, Kingston, S. et al., (2017)30. Majority of the participants believed that it was ‘normal’ for young people to try drugs at least once and most of them experimented with cannabis and ecstasy, Bryan, A. et al., (2000)10. However, since the vast majority viewed the phenomenon as negative, a strong hope exist that the battle to save our children is winnable.
Furthermore, the findings revealed a highly negative and stigmatizing attitudes towards the abusers both by the community and participants which for some people can be supportive in the fight but it can equally be destructive as the more they feel ostracized and unwanted, the more they are likely not to seek support or treatments. Above all, it affects resources allocation at various levels in terms of fighting the menace. For instance, labeling them as criminals and thieves, dangerous, lazy and unproductive, aimless and good for nothing, cursed and a societal burden, disbelievers and evils, shameless and disappointing, failures, etc. does not denied them community support, push them into hiding, make them reluctant or even afraid to seek treatments, skip appointments, etc. but make their situations worse. This findings is strongly supported by local people saw cannabis users as being immature and incapable of looking after their self, Anderson, Z. (2004)5. Inability to share problems with others and stigma are the two major barriers in both groups as cited in Cunningham et al., (1993) as cited in Rapp, R. et al., (2006)53. Societal negative attitudes serve to exacerbate the plight of the drug abusers by increasing their sense of alienation, thus discouraging them from seeking help for their problems (Power, 1989; Rhodes, 1990) as cited in Bryan, A. et al., (2000)10. The inability to share their concerns and problems out of fear of punishment from well-wishers as well as blackmailers, rejection, blame and guilt coupled with ignorance, they shun from seeking social support both from the family, friends and other authorities forced them to accept the situation as helplessness and above all making it more complex Singh, B. et al., (2017)64. Women addicts skip treatment appointment or avoid treatment altogether to manage the risk of detection by health workers and justice authorities, Stone, R. (2015)69. However, Rapp, R. et al., (2006)53 found contrary, the barriers that interfere with treatment entry are a part of most substance abusers’ life styles, as well as substance abusers’ treatment.
The results furthermore, unearthed different types of children being engaged in drug abuse or are at the risk of it namely, school drop outs, street children, children of jobless parents, children of drug abusers, children from poor family, children of homeless parents, poor performing students, orphans, single parent children, children of divorced parents, etc. which is in agreement with youth of single parent are at high risk for drug abuse as compare to adolescent with dual parents because single parents have financial crises and have less time to monitor their children Hemovich, V. et al., (2011)25 cited in Somani, S. et al., (2016)66. Children and adolescents from economically deprived families and communities are at risk of engaging in substance abuse Spooner, et al., (2005) as cited in Morojele, N. et al., (n.d.)42. In the absence of nurturing home environments children and adolescents often become more inclined to seek others, who are mostly fellow peers, to fulfill their need for acceptance and recognition with greater risk of drug use Brook et al., (2006) as cited in Morojele, N. et al. (n.d.)42.
The causes of drug abuse among children are adults marital conflicts, limited time for socialization, being orphans, selling and consuming drugs within the confines of households, peer influence, poverty, joblessness which result into idling, (Kudrati, M. et al., 2008; Nada, K.H. et al., 2010; Morakinyo, J. et al., 2003) as quoted in Cumber, S. M., et al., (2015)13. Socio-economic status (e.g. living in a deprived neighborhood, low income level) is an important risk factor for problematic behaviors, including alcohol and drug abuse, Matens, M. et al., (2006) as quoted in Tulu, S. K. et al., (2015)72.
Although all participants subscribed to children abusing drugs, the rationales advanced were mixed. For examples, peer influence and media, pleasure and brevity seeking, poor academic achievements, unstable or broken home environment, easy affordability and living with abusers, ignorance and poverty, curiosity and weak law enforcement, easy accessibility and public acceptance, not fearing of parents and adults, lack of parental supervision; and to work or study hard for long hours, etc. The findings is supported by, numerous factors can enhance the risk for initiating or continuing substance abuse including socioeconomic status, quality of parenting skills, peer group influence, and biological/inherent predisposition towards drug addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse, (2010) as cited in Das, J. K. et al. (2016)14. The major determinants of substance abuse include desires to relax or sleep after hard day’s job, work hard, relieve stress; and pleasure is the major factors associated with the abuse of substances by respondents, Yunusa, U. et al., (2017)79. Students use alcohol and drugs believing that such stimulation activate their brains which in return helps them to study hard and overcome teaching and learning process and meet deadline Meressa, K. et al., (2009) as quoted in Tulu, S. K. et al., (2015)72. The motives for using alcohol include staying awake in order to study at night, to forget problems, alleviate anxiety, enjoy festival, non-existence of alcohol control policies increasing its availability; and peer pressure, Dumbili, E.W. (2015)17. Peer pressure and exposure to drug-related marketing activities are predisposing factors for adolescents to initiate drug abuse, Somani, S. et al., (2016)66. Children in The Gambia misuse illicit drugs to escape problems, such as poverty, failure in school and unemployment, Youth Front Against Drugs and Alcohol Abuse, (2004) as cited in Anderson, Z. (2004)5.
In addition, the study revealed different places where children mostly abuse drugs namely; peers’ homes, street corners, car parks, night and video clubs, ghettoes and during parties, schools, beach sides/tourism areas, children’s own homes, etc. This concurs with schools are known to be the temples of knowledge and wisdom but they do not have power to closely monitor the life activities and events of students to a check against smoking, drinking, sex or poor eating patterns and others, Singh, B. et al., (2017)64. Traditional illicit drugs, cocaine misuse is very high in club culture, Vento, A.E. et al., (2014)75. One participant initiated substance use with his mother’s supply and escalated immediately to daily use by continuing to steal his mother’s alcohol and prescription drugs, Kingston, S. et al., (2017)30. The most common place for initiation of substance abuse was recreational avenues for males and homes for females, Sarangi, L. et al., (2008)57. Nightlife tourism is a booming business and the levels of drug and alcohol use and associated risk taking behaviors are often increased during these nightlife holiday periods, Hughes, et al., (2011) as cited in Healthy Nightlife Toolbox - Info sheet, (2016)23.
Similarly the findings revealed that children obtain drugs through various means including peers offering them, buying them jointly, adults abusers offerings them, picking remains in streets and ghettoes, stealing, as gifts for services to sellers, buying them individually, payment for services and including romantic ones, etc. This is supported by drugs initiators often obtained substances from friends but more frequently they stole them from parents or guardians, Kingston, S. et al., (2017)30. A majority of the adolescents purchase substances from their self-earning, Sarangi, L. et al., (2008)57. Panhandling is the most common source of income for homeless adolescents; however, they also earn income through prostitution, drug distribution, stealing, trading sex for money; and from parents/other family members or friends (O’Grady, B. et al., 2004; Farrow, J.A. et al., 1992; Unger, J.B. et al., 1998) as cited in Gomez, R. et al., (2010)21. Sometimes, children and adolescents indulge in drug abuse are forced into sex in exchange for drugs, Singh, B. et al., (2017)64. Many people may become involved in the sex industry to finance their drug addiction and often trade their body for drugs, DARA, (n.d.)15.