‘Drug abuse now preva­lent among women’

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - From Chris­tiana T. Alabi & Sun­day Isuwa, Kaduna

Drug use in­creas­ing among youths in Kaduna State es­pe­cially among young ladies and mar­ried women. The use of drugs in the past was more pop­u­lar among the male folk but now, the women folk are tak­ing the lead.

Many young women are seen hang­ing out with men at drug joints tak­ing va­ri­eties of drugs as well as non-con­ven­tional drugs like lizard exc­reta among oth­ers and as such they mis­be­have on the streets un­der the in­flu­ence of the drugs.

In fact, some be­come men­tally ill as a re­sult of the pro­longed use of the drugs.

Checks re­vealed that about 90 women have re­cently passed through re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion at the Na­tional Drug Law En­force­ment Agency (NDLEA) fa­cil­ity in Zaria.

A source told our cor­re­spon­dents that on a daily ba­sis, women are be­ing ar­rested over drug in­take. He added that the set­ting up of a task force on il­licit drugs by the Kaduna State govern­ment co­or­di­nated by NDLEA is yield­ing re­sult in com­bat­ing drug traf­fick­ing.

The task force is made up of per­son­nel from Army, Air­force, SSS and the NSCDC.

Dr. Ebiti Wil­liams, the Head of Clin­i­cal Ser­vices and also Head of Drug and Al­co­hol Treat­ment Unit at the Federal Neu­ropsy­chi­atric Hospi­tal in Kaduna said in an in­ter­view that Nigeria has not yet got­ten the ex­per­tise to deal with sub­stance use prob­lem.

“You see a lot of people say­ing they are treat­ing pa­tients with sub­stance use prob­lem but when you walk around the whole place, they are not re­ally do­ing any­thing to deal with the prob­lem. It is a multi-di­men­sional prob­lem and as such, we need people with the ex­per­tise to be able to deal with sub­stance use prob­lem,”

“We need fa­cil­i­ties to deal with sub­stance use prob­lem but have very few fa­cil­i­ties that have ex­per­tise to do that. We a

is lot of train­ing, while govern­ment needs to come up with poli­cies to help the youths. Though, many of the kids us­ing drugs are chil­dren of very rich par­ents and they use drugs not be­cause they are down trod­den or un­em­ployed,” Ebiti said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, it is not some­thing that govern­ment alone can deal with be­cause of the multi-di­men­sional as­pect of the prob­lem.

“I have had the op­por­tu­nity to talk to par­ents whose wards are us­ing drugs and they will re­main in de­nial un­til that child is about to kill them be­fore they will want to do some­thing. Propos­ing a bill to cur­tail drug abuse might not be the so­lu­tion,” he said.

The men­ace he said is a so­ci­etal prob­lem that the so­ci­ety must rise up to deal with from that per­spec­tive; say­ing that only then can Nigeria cur­tail the men­ace of drug abuse.

He also said that the in­take of tra­madol is on the in­crease gen­er­ally in Nigeria and much more in Kaduna just as other drugs are on the in­crease too es­pe­cially among youths in­clud­ing male and fe­male.

In his ex­pla­na­tion, he stated that these drugs are more or less re­ferred to as nar­cotics, that is, drugs that af­fect the func­tion­ing of the brain; not­ing that of­ten the youths are af­fected so­cially, oc­cu­pa­tion­ally and ed­u­ca­tion­ally among oth­ers.

He also said vic­tims of drug use may not do well in school, at work and in the fam­ily, adding that the fact that they have be­come de­pen­dent on the drugs will make them to take the drugs at all cost whether they have money to pur­chase them or not and whether it is suit­able for them or not.

Many of them he also said are more likely go­ing to be in­volved in steal­ing to be able to raise money to fund the habit; say­ing that, most of the youths who use drugs are not work­ing and as such do not have the re­sources to pro­cure the drugs.

“No par­ent will give his/her child money to buy tra­madol or any other sub­stance, so they are likely to be in­volved in steal­ing and other high risk be­hav­iours in­clud­ing fight­ing, rape, hav­ing sex with­out pro­tec­tion and armed rob­bery es­pe­cially when they are un­der the in­flu­ence of the drugs or when they are try­ing to get money to fund the drug habit.

“Most of these drugs be­ing abused are pre­scrip­tion drugs and one is only sup­posed to buy them with a pre­scrip­tion but en­forc­ing these laws is not easy and govern­ment may need to do a lot in terms of en­force­ment be­cause there are laws that ex­ist but if you walk into a chemist now and de­mand for tra­madol or any of the drugs, they will sell them, which is not sup­posed to be the case. So there is need for govern­ment to be­gin to look at the need to reg­u­late in terms of en­forc­ing the laws that ex­ist in the sale of some of these drugs to people,” he said.

Ex­pa­ti­at­ing fur­ther, Dr. Ebiti noted that in Nigeria and in the North, people who use drugs are usu­ally multi-drug users, people who use var­i­ous drugs in­clud­ing cannabis, In­dian hemp, tra­madol, so­lu­tion and ev­ery other sub­stance depend­ing on what is avail­able to them at the mo­ment.

He re­it­er­ated that his hospi­tal is see­ing more people who test pos­i­tive to the use of tra­madol. “We run a test to as­cer­tain if they are tak­ing drugs and the kind of drugs they take so that we can know the kind of treat­ment to give them and how to help them out if they are in­ter­ested in stop­ping.

He pointed out that ma­jor­ity of male pa­tients who visit the Psy­chi­atric hospi­tal use drug of one form or the other but he stressed that the hospi­tal is be­gin­ning to see an in­crease in the num­ber of fe­male that use these drugs.

“What we do to our clients who take sub­stance is ba­si­cally to ed­u­cate them and ask them if they want to stop. For those who do not want to stop, there is noth­ing we can do to help them. The best we can do is to mo­ti­vate them to want to stop be­cause it is not easy for them to stop just like that, so we mo­ti­vate them to want to stop and when they agree that they want to stop, we have a drug treat­ment unit in our hospi­tal where they can be treated for a min­i­mum of four months du­ra­tion of stay. It is an in-pa­tient fa­cil­ity where they can be as­sisted to stop drug use but it only work for those who are in­ter­ested in stop­ping.

“Sur­pris­ingly, ma­jor­ity of drug users don’t want to stop, we. have only a mi­nor­ity who want to stop and so we con­cen­trate on them,” he said.

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