Drug Abuse: Nigeria, a beautiful country which is known for its rich culture, diverse population and brilliant minds, is however, also facing a growing problem of drug abuse, which has become a major public health concern. A visit to any Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital anywhere across the country will leave you heartbroken by the number of youths who are facing various health challenges as a result of abuse of different types of drugs.
Drug abuse, which refers to the excessive or inappropriate use of drugs, has become a pervasive problem in Nigeria. According to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), it is prevalent in all regions of the country, affecting individuals of all ages, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds. The agency estimates that there are about 14.3 million drug abusers in Nigeria, which is about 14.4% of the country’s population.
“What is most heartbreaking is that majority of them are young people who are initiated into cannabis use around the age of 19. There is also increasing use of other psychotropic drugs, especially heroin by a growing number of young people who are mostly initiated at the age of 22 years. The more you unravel the statistics of drug abuses in Nigeria, the more damning it becomes. And when you combine these damning data with the recent results of the activities of the NDLEA, then you begin to get worried.” These were the words of the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) at an event in Ogidi, Ijumu local government area of Kogi State in 2021.
Drug abuse in Nigeria is fueled by various factors, including poverty, unemployment, peer pressure and easy access to drugs. Many Nigerians, particularly the youth, turn to drugs as a means of escaping their problems or dealing with stress. However, the consequences can be devastating, both for individuals and society as a whole.
One of the most significant dangers of drug abuse is the damage it causes to physical and mental health. Drugs can have a range of adverse effects on the body, including addiction, overdose and long-term health problems such as heart disease, liver damage and brain damage. Furthermore, drug abuse can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and psychosis, which can have a lasting impact on a person’s quality of life.
Drug abuse also has serious social and economic consequences. It can contribute to crime, violence and other forms of antisocial behavior, which can harm communities and undermine the rule of law. Drug abuse can also lead to decreased productivity, increased healthcare costs and lost wages, which can affect the country’s economy and development.
Despite the serious consequences of drug abuse, many Nigerians continue to use drugs, often due to the lack of awareness of the dangers and the limited availability of drug treatment programs. The NDLEA has made efforts to combat drug abuse in Nigeria through various initiatives, including public awareness campaigns, drug rehabilitation centers and enforcement of drug laws. However, more needs to be done to address the root causes of drug abuse and provide support to those struggling with addiction.
To combat drug abuse in Nigeria, it is essential to take a multi-faceted approach that involves both prevention and treatment. Preventive efforts should focus on raising awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and promoting healthy lifestyles, including exercise, healthy eating and stress management. Treatment programs should be made more widely available, accessible and affordable, and should involve a range of interventions, including counseling, medication-assisted treatment and support groups.
In addition, the Nigerian government should invest in social and economic development programs that can help reduce the underlying factors that contribute to drug abuse, such as poverty and unemployment. This could include initiatives to promote education, job creation and economic growth, as well as measures to improve access to healthcare, housing and social services.
In conclusion, drug abuse is a significant problem in Nigeria, with serious consequences for individuals, communities and the country as a whole. Addressing this problem will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders, including the government, civil society and the private sector. By working together to promote prevention and treatment, invest in development programs and raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse, Nigeria can make progress in reducing the harm caused by this pervasive problem.