Nigerian Lives: 5 Nigerians Talk About Addictions

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5 Nigerians talk about addictions

Addictions are far more complex than many realize. Merriam-Webster defines an addiction  as a “compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms.” Contrary to what many people think, addictive behaviors can extend to other aspects of modern life, including social media usage, food consumption, and even work habits. These non-substance addictions share a crucial characteristic with their chemical counterparts: they provoke distinct withdrawal symptoms when the behavior is curbed or ceased. The path to addressing addiction, regardless of its form, lies not in stigmatization. Instead, society must approach those struggling with compassion and understanding. By creating a supportive environment and encouraging professional help, we can guide individuals toward recovery and healing.

Culture Custodian spoke to 5 Nigerians about the addictions they struggle with, and how it affects their personal life. 

Glory *

I am not a stranger to the world of depression neither am I a newbie to the smell of good greens. My current addiction is weed.

It is not so much of an addiction because I could go a few days without it but on most days, I am using, or is it? You tell me. I started dealing with depression in 2018 and I still am but then I was addicted to alcohol. I started taking weed in 2022, I tried it and fell in love with the ecstatic feeling. Weed takes me out of my mind. It is always loud in my head and sometimes, I can’t shut down my mind or keep it together emotionally because of how grieved my heart is, which of course is the most difficult thing I have to do on some days. I know at some point I would need to seek help but right now? I am in airplane mode. 

I am honest enough to let you know weed does affect my finances. I want to be better with my finances and to do that, weed must go, but am I truly ready for that journey knowing fully well I am not okay mentally? I sometimes question what my next coping mechanism would be, healthy or fatal. I am not sure what is for me in this world. I believe I have a place but right now, the emotions and doubts are heavy and, on most days, painful. I guess I’ll keep showing up until I don’t show up anymore. I don’t sound too optimistic, but what is optimism in a chaotic world? 

Jasper *

My parents had me stay outside for a couple of hours at night when I got caught watching porn for the first time.

My mum punched my jaw, my head was shaved and I had to follow my dad to prayer meetings for a week. That was when I was 14 and just watched. I was curious, but I was using my mum’s phone. I struggle with loneliness (romantic/sexual) so that longing kinda builds up and an orgasm is nice, it helps keep those thoughts away. So it’s not porn I have a problem with, granted I’ve watched so much that it has caused irreparable damage to me. I try to keep away from triggers (sexual content, interactions, etc), and I’m building self-control. The thoughts still pop up without triggers.

Dera *

I have an eating addiction.

I’d like to emphasize that this is more a stress-eating addiction that came as a result of depression but an addiction nonetheless. If I earn 50k in a month, I’d spend at least 40k on food. Snacks and junk food mostly. There are times I’d go some days without actual food and just focus solely on a particular thing. It’s been very bad for my health and even worse for my finances, but the one time I tried to stop, it felt like I couldn’t function throughout the day without them. I’ve also once borrowed money just to fund them, and it was at that point I realized it was more serious than I thought. They heighten in depressive episodes definitely, but overall it’s a habit that has been quite difficult to quit.

Fola *

I have a porn addiction.

When I was 12, I spent a lot of time alone at home and would go outside to hang out with our security guard at the time. One day, I was using his phone and accidentally found his gallery, and ever since then, it’s been a challenging journey. Honestly, it’s been years and I still haven’t been able to stop, it’s been like a barrier between me and my goals. I find it hard to focus on certain things cause it’s all I think about most of the time.

Sylvester *

I started masturbating in like 200 level of uni.

Before this, I had not engaged in any sexual activity so it was a first for me. The dopamine rush was so good. It didn’t become frequent until after uni, I was in a dark place and I just wanted to feel that high. It has now become compulsive, it’s how I get through bad days. If I don’t masturbate I won’t be able to sleep, it’s always at the back of my mind. For the past 4 to 5 years, I’ve been doing it almost every day, sometimes twice or thrice. It affects my sleep pattern, I wake up tired each day. I just don’t know how to stop, especially when life isn’t going great, it’s like a gateway drug. It doesn’t affect my sexual appetite, I have a decent sex life but I still feel the need to masturbate every day.

*the names of individuals have been changed to protect their identity.