La­gos and The Cam­paign Against Drug Abuse

Tayo Ogun­biyi urges all stake­hold­ers to as­sist the state gov­ern­ment in tam­ing the drug scourge

THISDAY - - OPINION -

Ac­cord­ing to World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), drug abuse is “the harm­ful or haz­ardous use of psy­choac­tive sub­stances, in­clud­ing al­co­hol and il­licit drugs”. It is es­ti­mated that about 76.3 mil­lion peo­ple strug­gle with al­co­hol use dis­or­ders con­tribut­ing to 1.8 mil­lion deaths per year. The United Na­tions re­ported that around 185 mil­lion peo­ple glob­ally over the age of 15 were con­sum­ing drugs by the end of the 20th cen­tury. Drug abuse is a sit­u­a­tion when drug is taken more than it is pre­scribed. It could also be seen as the use of il­licit drugs, or the abuse of pre­scrip­tion or over-the-counter drugs. It could fur­ther be de­fined as the de­lib­er­ate use of chem­i­cal sub­stances for rea­sons other than in­tended med­i­cal pur­poses and which re­sults in phys­i­cal, men­tal emo­tional or so­cial im­pair­ment of the user. The abuse of le­gal drugs can hap­pen when peo­ple use the drugs in a man­ner other than di­rected by the man­u­fac­turer or pur­pose that are not le­git­i­mate.

Drug ad­dic­tion oc­curs through excessive, mal­adap­tive, or ob­ses­sive use of drugs for non-medic­i­nal pur­poses. It is char­ac­terised by a com­pul­sion to take drugs on a steady ba­sis in or­der to ex­pe­ri­ence its men­tal ef­fects. Drug ad­dic­tion leads to ha­bit­ual de­pen­dence on drugs which gives rise to men­tal, emo­tional, bi­o­log­i­cal or phys­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic in­sta­bil­ity.

Drug ad­dic­tion, no doubt, has dis­tress­ing and ex­tremely aw­ful con­se­quences on the so­ci­ety. Vi­o­lence, so­cial de­viance, men­tal dis­or­ders, up­surge in crime, cor­rup­tion; de­struc­tion of in­di­vid­u­als, ero­sion of so­ci­etal val­ues, un­der­min­ing of na­tional economies and pre­ma­ture death are some of the con­se­quences of drug ad­dic­tion.

It is in or­der to stem the in­creas­ing trend of drug abuse and ad­dic­tion in the coun­try as well as the state in par­tic­u­lar that the La­gos State gov­ern­ment through the Min­istry of Youth and So­cial De­vel­op­ment re­cently flagged off the La­gos State Kicks Against Drug Abuse (LASKADA). The ini­tia­tive is to com­ple­ment other such ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to­wards tack­ling drug abuse in the state.

The ini­tia­tive adopts a tri­pod ap­proach com­pris­ing events, en­gage­ments with stake­hold­ers and aware­ness cam­paign. The cam­paign started with a 1,000-man walk against drug abuse in which the state gover­nor, Mr. Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode and his wife, Mrs. Bolanle Am­bode and other top gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies ac­tively took part. With re­gard to aware­ness cam­paign, there are al­ready se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties on var­i­ous plat­forms to en­sure that the mes­sage gets to the tar­geted au­di­ence. Faith-based or­gan­sa­tions, tra­di­tional bod­ies, road trans­port work­ers, the po­lit­i­cal class, NDLEA, youth or­gan­i­sa­tions; NGOs, the me­dia and other crit­i­cal stake­hold­ers are to be con­stantly en­gaged with a view to dras­ti­cally re­duc­ing the rate of drug abuse in the state.

For ob­vi­ous rea­son, the cam­paign’s main tar­get is the youth who are most vul­ner­a­ble when it comes to drug abuse and other re­lated mat­ters. With­out a doubt, the youth rep­re­sents the largest pop­u­la­tion in Nige­ria and is, there­fore, con­sid­ered the most sus­cep­ti­ble group as far as drug and is­sues are con­cerned.

A re­cent United Na­tions Of­fice on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Re­port shows that the age of first use in the coun­try is 10-29 years. The Na­tional Drug Law En­force­ment Agency (NDLEA) has ex­pressed con­cern over the in­creas­ing level of drug abuse and drug traf­fick­ing among Nige­rian youths. Ac­cord­ing to the NDLEA, the sit­u­a­tion had been wors­ened by the af­ford­abil­ity of sub­stance of abuse such as cough syrups, lizard wastes, gums and cannabis sativa pop­u­larly known as In­dian hemp. Con­sid­er­ing the del­i­cate and sen­si­tive po­si­tion of the youth within the so­ci­ety, drug ad­dic­tion among them re­mains a ma­jor threat to na­tional growth and de­vel­op­ment.

The in­ge­nu­ity in­tro­duced into sub­stance mis­use and abuse with com­plex mix­tures, ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and new dis­cov­er­ies among young peo­ple should be a source of great con­cern to any peo­ple ori­ented gov­ern­ment. Youth in­volve­ment in this mal­adap­tive and anti-so­cial be­haviour would, no doubt, ag­gra­vate their in­volve­ment in crimes such as rob­bery, steal­ing, kid­nap­ping, cy­ber­crime, rape, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, mur­der, sui­cide, among oth­ers.

Cur­rently, the state gov­ern­ment has en­listed the ser­vice of fe­male foot­ball su­per­star, Asisat Osoala, who is the cur­rent African Fe­male Foot­baller of the Year as Am­bas­sador in the cam­paign against drug abuse. This move is quite strate­gic be­cause of the er­ro­neous no­tion among the youths that with­out drug use, suc­cess can­not be at­tained in the fields of sports and en­ter­tain­ment. Thus, it is ex­pected that the in­volve­ment of an ac­com­plished su­per­star of Osoala stature in the cam­paign would help drive home this point. It is hoped that more su­per­stars in the sports, arts and en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try would come on board this laud­able project.

Other ini­tia­tives that have ear­lier been put in place by the state gov­ern­ment to deal with the scourge of drug abuse in­clude the es­tab­lish­ment of youth-friendly cen­tres in all the lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas as well as lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­vel­op­ment ar­eas (LCDAs) to serve as venue for relaxation and recre­ation and to fur­ther en­gage the youth in pro­duc­tive ven­ture so that the men­ace of drug abuse could be dras­ti­cally erad­i­cated. Es­tab­lish­ment of drug-de­pen­dent re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre by the state gov­ern­ment equally gives sup­port to youths who are ad­dicted to drugs.

In or­der to en­sure that the var­i­ous com­mit­ments of the state gov­ern­ment in tack­ling drug abuse are not in vain, other stake­hold­ers need to join hands with the gov­ern­ment to put up a com­mon front against this scourge. En­vi­ron­men­tal in­flu­ence, es­pe­cially dur­ing child­hood, is a very im­por­tant fac­tor in drug ad­dic­tion. Par­ents or older fam­ily mem­bers who abuse al­co­hol or drugs, or who en­gage in crim­i­nal be­haviour, can in­crease chil­dren’s risks of de­vel­op­ing their own drug prob­lems. Friends and ac­quain­tances can also have an in­creas­ingly strong in­flu­ence dur­ing ado­les­cence.

––Ogun­biyi is of the La­gos State Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion & Strat­egy, Alausa, La­gos

(See con­clud­ing part on www.this­daylive.com)

Vi­o­lence, so­cial de­viance, men­tal dis­or­ders, up­surge in crime, cor­rup­tion; de­struc­tion of in­di­vid­u­als, ero­sion of so­ci­etal val­ues, un­der­min­ing of na­tional economies and pre­ma­ture death are some of the con­se­quences of drug ad­dic­tion

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