Drug abuse is a public health problem globally. According to the United Nations the global number of illicit drug users is likely to grow by 25% by 2050, with the bulk of the increase expected to take place among the rapidly rising urban populations of developing countries.
Studies have shown that repeated substance abuse can impair a person’s self-control and ability to make sound decisions. It can be compulsive and may result in harmful consequences to the drug addict and those around them. The issue of drug abuse epidemic touches all social strata and afflicting families and young lives. Not even nursing mothers are spared.
Considering the socio-economic state of the country (Nigeria), the issue of drug abuse is often swept under the carpet in this part of the world. The stark reality is that so many Nigerian youths are shadows of their former selves because of drugs. It was recently reported that about 40 per cent of Nigerian youths are abusing one form of drug or the other. This is quite alarming.
Curiosity, it is said “kills the cat”. The youth of today are very inquisitive and curious; they would like to have a taste of whatever they see or hear of. It is worrisome that an increasing number of secondary school and tertiary institution students are getting involved in drug abuse. Many youths of today are increasingly abusing drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Other forms of drugs like Indian hemp, which is commonly produced in Nigeria and others like methamphetamine, syrups and tablets with codeine capable of intoxicating, are mostly found in schools, motor parks and even with local traders that sell provisions in kiosks.
One major factor that is associated with the abuse of drugs among youths is peer pressure. Other factors include weak parental control, child abuse, imitation, emotional stress, truancy among students, the availability of the drugs and the ineffectiveness of laws on drug trafficking. It is noteworthy that drug menace as a social canker can be prevented and curbed if there is a concerted effort by all.
In order to fight this menace the role of the family is important. As the saying goes, “Charity begins at home. Parents or guardians should adequately discharge their responsibilities of bringing up a child in a way that depicts moral uprightness and abstinence from drugs. As much as charity begins at home, it does not end at home. It implies that a great percentage of any child’s behaviour is expected to be influenced not only from within his/ her immediate family but the society in general.
On their part, the Government through legislative interventions must make it a priority to initiate action on drug abuse by passing a resolution on the need to check the rising menace of drug abuse among youths. The Government should partner with appropriate stakeholders including traditional rulers, community leaders, pharmacists and NGOs to create a framework for fighting drug abuse.
Again, Government programmes through the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be sustained to sensitise the youth on the issues of drugs. Anti-drug campaigns in forms of awareness programmes, rallies and lectures will all go a long way in cautioning the youth on the abuse of drugs.
In South Africa there is the Second Chance Recovery Centre which was established in 2010; it is working to rehabilitate drug addicts. This group of youth discuss their experiences as part of a recovery programme that targets drug addicts. This programme can be adopted here in Nigeria too. The Federal Ministry of Health should be mandated to provide drug rehabilitation centres and support for drug abuse victims that seek help.
Despite efforts being put by Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) operatives towards fighting the menace, more still needs to be done. The agency among others must be strengthened to enable them become more effective and efficient to carry out their set objectives.
Above all, it is important to emphasise that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. The youths are the future leaders. There is a need to send a clear signal to all Nigerians that drug abuse is dangerous and leads to a total destruction of the wellbeing of the individual. Therefore, concerted effort by all should be put in place to stop this menace so as to have a world free of drugs.