The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) called for collaboration from the Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in taking drastic action toward strengthening drug demand reduction strategies.
Col. Muhammad Abdullah Rtd, Chairman and Chief Executive of NDLEA who made the call at the maiden lecture series of South-South Professional Women Association (SSPWA) in Abuja said such strategies should focus on evidence-based drug use prevention, treatment and care in Nigeria.
The theme of the lecture is “Drug Abuse and Mental Health: The family perspective”.
Represented by Cdr Kayode Adeniyi, Commander of Narcotics in NDLEA, he noted that though considerable efforts are being made by the agency to combat drug abuse, there was an urgent need for CSOs, NGOs and other community groups to embark on continuous enlightenment campaigns against indiscriminate use of drug.
“I implore government at all levels to establish drug abuse counselling units in schools, marketplaces, motor parks, workplaces and recreation grounds.
“Religious, voluntary and cultural organisations should also join in efforts to rid our country of the menace of drug abuse,” he said.
Abdullah who identified drug abuse as a global phenomenon emphasised that no nation was free from its adverse effects and consequences.
He specifically noted it has eaten into the various sectors of the society cutting across the social-economic background in the country.
The CEO noted that based on the latest National Drug Use Survey no fewer than 14.3 million people in Nigeria used drugs in the past one year representing 14.4 per cent of the population describing the figure as more than twice the global average of 5.6 per cent.
According to him, the survey report also indicated that 10.6 million Nigerians abused Cannabis last year while 4.6 million people used and abused prescription drugs particularly Tramadol and Codeine contained cough Syrups without medical justifications.
“In contemporary Nigeria, varieties of substances are being used and abused. These include Cannabis, Codeine, Heroin, Tramadol, Amphetamine, Methamphetamine and Codeine contained cough syrups.
“Other unconventional substances being used include dried Paw-Paw leaves, Lizard Faeces, Pit Latrine Fumes, Tom-tom soaked in Lacasera drink and smoking of match sticks to get high. Drug users are members of the families and this should be a matter of serious concern,” he noted.
Abdullah identified the youth as the most vulnerable group to drug abuse.
He, however, described such abuse by youth as orchestrated by drug availability, curiosity, lack of parental care, peer-group influence, parental drug use, an influence of advertisements and psycho-social stresses such as anxiety, frustration and unemployment.
He says “Many unemployed and frustrated youths resort to taking drugs because of their relaxing and euphoric effects. Cannabis, Tramadol, cough syrup with codeine and other substances are being abused by both sexes for either as stimulants or depressants purposes.”
According to him, continuous and persistent use of psychoactive drugs can lead to mental illness. Apart from this, mental ill health may also be caused by the reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biomedical imbalances or a combination of these factors.
“In some cases, drug abuse is responsible for mental health disorders like depression, anxiety disorders, dementia, schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities and disorders,” Abdullah said.
“The Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN) has revealed that youth account for about 85 per cent of psychiatric cases in Nigeria, which is caused by drug and substance abuse,” he added.
Mrs Maryam Haruna, President of SSPWA said the organisation comprises of professional women of diverse backgrounds, skills and expertise that advocate, intervene, interact and exchange ideas.
Haruna said further that the organisation educate and empower women and girls from the six states within the region which are Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
According to her, members of the group share interest and passion in community growth and development.
“Despite the incredible number of educated achievers especially women from the region, our educational and moral values were becoming worrisome.
“The gaps as regard to gender inclusiveness in governance, family health, education, the environment, economic empowerment, civic awareness and responsibility are aspects we strive to bridge,” she said.