It is apparent that self-medication is now practice that is prominent around the world, and the students of tertiary institutions are not left out. Self-medication, which is a common self-care practice; is often reported around the world. It is defined as obtaining and consuming drugs without the advice of health care professionals, either for diagnosis, prescription or surveillance of the treatment. Self-medication is what people do for their own selves to establish and maintain health, prevent and deal with illness (WHO, 1998). It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, socio-economic factors and self-medication(AL Khaja et al 2006, Alano et al, 2009).
Self medication, as one element of self cure, is the selection and use of non prescription medicines by individuals to heat self recognized illness or symptom(WHO, 1998). It is the use of non-prescription medicine by people on the basis if their own initiatives. Husan and Khanum(2008) also defined self-medication as obtaining and consuming medication, without professional supervision regarding indication, dosage and duration of treatment. However, self medication does not necessarily mean the consumption of modern medicines, but also of herbs(parth et al, 2002).
Medicines for self medication are often called ‘non prescription’ ‘over the counter’(OTC) and are available without a doctor’s prescription through pharmacies. In some countries, OTC products are also available in supermarket and other outlets. Medicines that require a doctor’s prescription are called prescription products(R*PRODUCTS). Self medication with OTC medicine is sometimes referred to as ‘responsible’ self medication to distinguish it from the practice of purchasing and a prescription medicine, without a doctor’s prescription. Self medication is widely practiced both in the developed and developing countries. As a result, medication may be approved of being safe, for self medication by the National Drug Regulatory Authority.
Studies revealed that there is an increase in the trend of self medication, particularly among the youth. This can be attributed to socio economic factors, lifestyle, ready access to drugs, the increased potential to manage certain illness through self cure, greater availability of medical products, socio demographic, epidemiological, availability of health care and health professionals, law, society and exposure to advertisement,high level of education and professional status.(Alano et al 2009)
Moreover, knowledge of drugs and their use are the main causes of self medication, especially among youths and undergraduates (Al Khaja et al 2006). In economically deprived countries, most episodes of illness are treated by self medication(G/Mariam and Worku,2003)
In a number of developing countries including Nigeria, many drugs are dispensed over the counter (OTC) without medical supervision. In this case, self medication provides a lower cost-alternative for people who cannot afford the cost of clinical services. The common episodes for which most people go for self-medication include, but not limited to colds and flu, heartburn, infrequent and difficulty of passing out stool, minor skin problems, insect bite and many others, (G/Marian and Worku, 2003). Though the practice of self-medication is as old as mankind itself, little has been exploited. If used appropriately, self-medication could lighten the demand on doctors and make people more health conscious. However if abused it could delay accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, and could cause toxicity, side-effects, drug interaction and un-necessary expenditure (Arzi et al, 2010).
Nowadays people are keen to accept more personal responsibility for their health status and to obtain as much sound information as possible from expert sources in order to help them make appropriate decisions in healthcare. Pharmacists have a key role to play in providing them with assistance, advice and information about medicines available for self-medication.
Moreover, the internet is emerging as a major source of information on health issues and (with appropriate control) offers a great promise in helping people with self-care. The type and extent of self-medication and the reasons for its practices may vary from country to country. In developing countries, both modern and traditional drugs are commonly use for self-medication. Even though, self-medication is a useful tool to treat minor ailments, improper self-medication practice or medication abuse may lead to serious adverse drug reactions and possibly fatal consequences. Moreover, currently there is a worldwide concern about the emergence of antibiotics resistant strains of micro-organisms, which might have been highly argument by self-medication.
There is therefore a need to know the prevalence, determinants and risk factors associated with self-medication practice among undergraduate and to device appreciate educational, regulatory and administrative measures, alleviating the public health risks arising from improper practice of self-medication.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem of the study is based on the level of awareness of the dangers of self-medication among undergraduates. It is at alarming rate the use of drugs for self-medication among the youths in the Nigeria tertiary institutions.
For instance the death of the popular BMX cyclist named Scoth Breithaupt who died from, over-dose intake of cocaine. Also Whitney Huston a female singer and an actress, also died from long use of cocaine. Michael Jackson the popular Pop singer also died from the excessive intake of psycho-active drugs. Therefore, there is a need to know the prevalence rate and determinants and risk factors associated with self-medication among undergraduate students. This will help reduce the risk of negative impact of drug in the body, and also reduce future dangers associated with self-medication.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to investigate and find out the level of awareness of the dangers of self-medication among undergraduate students of Delta State University.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions are generated to guide the study;
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The following null hypotheses are hereby formulated to guide the study:-
Ho1: There is no relationship in the level of awareness of the dangers of self-medication between male and female undergraduate student in Delta State University
Ho2: There is no relationship in the level of awareness of the dangers of self-medication between the new student and old student of Delta State University
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to both students and the school authority of Delta State University. It will help create awareness in the students of the institution, and also help to reduce behaviours associated with self-medication.
It will also be of benefit to other educational institutions, and all others who wish to carry out a research on the level of awareness of the dangers of self-medication among undergraduates. The study will be of help to the general public, as the incidence of maladjustment associated with self-medication will drastically reduce. It will help the legislative arm of government to make laws that will regulate drug use among Nigeria youths.
1.7 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The study is aimed at checking the level of awareness of the dangers of self-medication among undergraduate students, using Delta State University as a case study. The study will be restricted to students of Delta State University and specifically will make use of students from faculty of social sciences.
1.8 Definition of Terms