Perception of Substance Abuse             Orient Journal of Medicine             Vol 27 [3-4] July-Dec, 2015

Perception of Nigerian healthcare professionals about substance abuse and their willingness to seek substance related help: a pilot study
Appolos C NDUKUBA1 
Eucharia T NDUKUBA2  
Emeka U MONG3
Rosemary C MUOMAH4 
Monday N IGWE5

1Department of Psychological Medicine, College of Medicine  University of Nigeria Nsukka  ENUGU State, NIGERIA 2Department of Nursing Services  Federal Teaching Hospital  Abakaliki, Ebonyi State NIGERIA
3Dept of Health Education Ebonyi State University Abakaliki, Ebonyi State NIGERIA
4Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Nigeria  Teaching Hospital  Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu State  NIGERIA
5Dept of Psychological Medicine,  Ebonyi State University Abakaliki, Ebonyi State NIGERIA 

Author for Correspondence
Dr Appolos C NDUKUBA 
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu State NIGERIA 
Phone: +234-706-609-6310 

Received: June 5th, 2015
Accepted: November 30th, 2015

Background:  With the poor health indices in most developing countries, the consequences of substance abuse by healthcare professionals are grave.  While studies from western countries observed that a significant proportion of healthcare professionals abuse substances; and are less likely to seek help, the prevalence is largely unknown in Nigeria. The healthcare professionals in this region poorly perceive the problem and thus, are unwilling to seek help.  Objective: This study aimed to assess the prevalence and patterns of abuse of substances by healthcare professionals in a Nigerian tertiary health institution; their perception of substance abuse and willingness to seek help.  
Methodology: This was a cross-sectional study of 149 healthcare workers who were screened for substance abuse using the alcohol, smoking and substance involvement screening test (ASSIST) version 3. Their perception and willingness to seek help were assessed using questions developed by the researchers based on literature.
Excess workload/stress of work was perceived as the most common reason for abusing drugs. Overall, substance abuse was perceived as a mental health problem. However, those that abuse substances more readily perceived it as a habit problem rather than a mental health challenge.  Moreover, there was lower readiness to seek and pay for treatment among them. 
The study has brought to the fore the need to provide mental health education especially to healthcare professionals and to expose them to healthier methods of coping with stress.     

Keywords:  Addiction, medical personnel, screening, treatment