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Stakeholders urge FG to declare state of emergency on drug abuse

“We hope to be able to rehabilitate most of our youths because these are avoidable problems if treatments are available.

• December 1, 2023
Youths on drugs
Youths on drugs[Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

Health experts and other stakeholders have called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on drug abuse to effectively curb its growing threat in the country.

They made the call at a conference on drug addiction treatment and rehabilitation on Friday in Abuja.

The conference, organised by the White Rock Addiction Foundation, has the theme “Global Drug Challenges in the 21st Century: Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation As an Option.”

According to them, the growing trend of cases of the use of illicit drugs, especially among the youth, is a serious issue that should be addressed as a national threat.

Ambassador Musa Tsoken, director-general of the Nigeria Young Diplomat Forum, said, “The people that are very productive in ensuring that every nation in the world progresses are the youth.

“However, when the youth are addicted to drugs, they will be unproductive; therefore, the country is not going to progress.

“So, a declaration of a kind of state of emergency on drug addiction is very important.”

Also, Dr Bola Oyegbami, country representative of the Platform for African Women in Smart Climate Agriculture (PAWISCA), said, “I am deeply worried as a mother because the menace of drug abuse among youth is getting embarrassing.

“Our youths are being wasted as a result of this, so I would prefer the Federal Government declare a state of emergency on this national health challenge.

“It has gone bad that we now have it in primary schools, secondary schools, and even children sent to tertiary schools, so the situation needs emergency treatment.

“That is why we should encourage this foundation for a good job, and government at all levels should take this up because many children’s lives are getting bad because of drugs.”

The general secretary of the foundation, Tunde Folaranmi, said, “It has been said in many quarters that the drug use crisis in Nigeria is a pandemic.

“According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime survey, we have a prevalence of about 23 per cent, which is almost the highest in the world for people who struggle with drug abuse.

“We need a holistic approach by engaging all stakeholders to create prevention methods by ensuring that the family, religious organizations, and the community play intervention roles.

“However, there is still room for treatment because no matter how much you try to prevent, there are still people who fall prey to drug use, so do we throw them away?”

Mr Folaranmi added that the foundation seeks to introduce an effective evidence-based treatment method for addiction to help reduce the number of people struggling with it.

He explained that besides treatment, there is a need for effective social reintegration mechanisms for drug abuse victims to ensure they become useful in society.

Earlier in his address, Dr Olatunji Nasir, chairman, and CEO of the White Rock Addiction Foundation, said the organisation was a body of narcotic experts and other professionals within and outside Nigeria.

According to him, the foundation seeks to save lives through prevention, interventions, treatments, and rehabilitation, recovery, and reintegration of substance use disorder clients.

“We hope to be able to rehabilitate most of our youths because these are avoidable problems if treatments are available.

“I am using the opportunity to call on families, communities, the private and public sectors to actually come and help, give a helping hand to this project, and let us lift our society off drugs,” he said.

(NAN)

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