As the fight and constant sensitization on drug and substance abuse intensifies, various stakeholders and organizations have risen up to the challenge of ensuring that drug crimes is curbed in the country.
The Juli Education Foundation, founded by Miss Joy Ogiator has decried the alarming increase in drug related cases, saying drug abuse in the past decade has quadrupled, and that last year alone Nigeria recorded an all-time high in substance abuse.
A survey carried out by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Center for Research and Information on Substance Abuse with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and funding from the European Union suggests that over 14.3 million people which amounts to about 15% of the adult population have been involved in drug and substance consumption in the past year. This certainly is a rate much higher than the 2016 global average which stood at 5.6% among adults.
This according to Miss Ogiator, should be of utmost concern to leaders in the country and those who believe in the future of Nigeria, because the issue is capable of threatening the existence of the nation.
The survey which further showed that the highest levels of drug use were recorded among people aged 25 to 39 with cannabis further goes to explain the foundation’s interest in ensuring that it join forces with other stakeholders to reduce youths involvement in drug and substance abuse. Miss Ogiator while pointing out other substances such as sedatives, heroin, cocaine and the non-medical use of prescription opioids, stated that substances such as codeine,antibiotics,coughsyrupandtramadol were popular among the youths, probably due to their affordability.
Drug or substance abuse, according to the World Health Organisation, is regarded as “the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.” This activity which usually starts as a trial or as a sort out solution to depression could result in dependence syndrome, a phenomenon that develops after repeated substance use and “strong desire to take the drug, difficulty in controlling its use (and) persisting in its use despite harmful consequences,” among other issues. The UN reported that globally alcohol consumption alone is responsible for about 3.3 million deaths every year, although this figure will be higher if other contemporary substances are included.
The Juli Education Foundation with a wide range of advocacies bothering on education and youth development noted that the situation is most pathetic so much that some youths now indulge in the consumption of crude concoctions as alternatives to the more expensive substances. Such acts they refer to as the smoking of lizard parts and various animal dunksand the sniffing of petroleum substances, glue, sewage and urine as inhalant.
Ogiator noted that although there are always various sides to the single most defining collapse of the youthful population and the fear that comes with a nation that has turned to drug abuse, what is most conniving is the rather abysma approach successive governments has taken towards combating this future killer.
“The issues and discussions bothering on drug abuse has become most infinite, and its consequences is perhaps why many countries especially in the Asian continent hand down maximum punishment for drug offences. But that is not the way to solve this societal epidemic, instead these people should be supported and given a lifeline to live well again and be accepted back in the society.”
While the menace of drug abuse and the harm it brings to the population are constantly being addressed, countries all over are seriously seeking out remedies to keep her population safe and healthy. One of the prayers of the foundation bothers on the urgent need to establish correctional facilities just as the ones available in advanced European countries for abusers to seek help rather than punish them. Non-Governmental Organisations in different countries are advocating for policies that would endear abusers to be supported, regarding drug abuse as an illness rather than a crime. It is rather pertinent that we in this clime advocate along this line to bring to a reduction the prevalence of drug abuse among youths.
“While the government strives to combat the prevalence of drug abuse, it is very important that parents, teachers and stakeholders take up the responsibility of ridding the society of this human killer. Juli foundation which is an NGO that works among rural schools has been working with partner agencies and other NGOs to bring the message of abstinence among young adults.”
The Foundation in collaboration with A New Thing International Foundation (A.N.T), Youth compass Foundation , Godspel music Africa Foundation (GMA), recently embarked on a visit to various secondary schools to speak to students on the dangers of indulging in drug abuse, most especially in an age where social media plays a critical role in the development of young people.
The president of The A New Thing International Foundation, Pastor Kenneth Anetor, during his address to the students on “The Dangers of Drug abuse and Importance of Abstinence,” said the road to a drug free future starts with the decision to say NO to drug abuse and other illicit substances today. He led the children to take a vow of abstinence from drugs and other illicit substances.
However, Juli Foundation after series of advocacies is calling for assistance from notable government agencies and corporate organisations to support the cause to carry out advocacy to rural public schools and communities that have no access to the important information needed to fight the increasing dominance of drug abusers.