Alarming rate of drug abuse among youth

The disclosure last week by a medical expert, Mr Tunde Banjo, to the effect that over 70 per cent of young Nigerians are involved in drug abuse, with 80 per cent of the abusers being children of the rich and elite, is quite alarming.
This gory state of affairs calls for the declaration of a state of emergency, considering the fact that the youth population is the fulcrum of national development.
Speaking at one-day seminar on Drug Abuse Among Nigerian Adolescents: A Deter to National Development organised by Youth Interfaith Council (YIC) penultimate weekend, Banjo of the National Eye Centre, Kaduna, said some youth don’t even know that they are into abuse of drugs.
He explained that daily intake of beverage, kolanut, paracetamol and other analgesics without a doctor’s prescription, excessive intake of cigarettes and alcohol all amount to drug abuse.
Banjo, in his paper titled Effects of Drug Abuse on Young People, said drug abuse could emanate from peer group pressure, ignorance, emotional or psychological stress, easy access, desperation, social pathologies, to heighten athletics performance and occupational susceptibilities, which could have medical, physical, social, economical and psychological effects.
“Any chemical substance incorrectly used is drug abuse.
70 per cent of young people are involved in drug abuse.
Taking mineral daily, constant and frequent intake of coffee and painkillers, taking drugs that can change a person’s mood and perception, using drugs for nonmedical purposes, are all abuse of drugs.
“Other forms of drug abuse include ingestion of cocaine, analgesics, cough syrup, snuff, cigarette, alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, inhalants, hallucinogens, amphetamines, coffee and sedatives.
The effects of drug abuse include premature death, impotence, damage to the brain, liver, kidney, lung and heart,” he said.
According to the medical expert, while it’s easy to get into drug abuse, it’s often difficult to kick away the habit as such people continue to go deeper into it.
He urged for strong desire and will power to stop the addiction using attitude, conscience and thinking.
Chairman of YIC, Sheriff Olutusin, said YIC was formed in 2012 to provide the platform for Muslim and Christian youth leaders to come together in sincere and concrete dialogue from the various perspectives to identify and address conflict and youth common and specific poverty related challenges.
He said they try to preach love, peace, unity and justice.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines substance abuse as “the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs”.
A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicates that about 76.3 million people struggle with alcohol use disorders contributing to 1.8 million deaths per year.
It said that around 185 million people globally over the age of 15 were consuming drugs by the end of the 20th century.
According to the World Drug Report, over 210 million people or 4.8% of the world population use illicit substances yearly.
In Nigeria, the youth seems to be more involved in this deadly act with 10- 29 years given as the age of first use in the country.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said that drug abuse and drug trafficking among Nigerian youths 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.
Bearing the fact that youth involvement in drug abuse is deleterious to the social, political and economic development of the country we urge the federal government to ensure the faithful implementation of UNODC’s recommendations, especially the two crucial components of demand reduction.
These include: gather data on drug-use disorders’ prevalence and the accessibility and utilization of treatment; invest in ensuring treatment and rehabilitation are evidence-based; and allocate sufficient resources to treatment and rehabilitation.
It equally recommended that the Nigerian government should pay particular attention to special population groups, share nationally and internationally best practices and build capacity as well as stimulate research into new interventions, among others.
Nevertheless, we view the recent directive by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, banning the sales of codeine containing cough syrups without prescription across the country as a the right foot forward in its effort to curb drug addiction in the country, especially among the youth.
In addition to these measures, however, we urge the federal government to tackle the problem of unemployment in the country, which is one the major factors exacerbating the prevalence of drug abuse among our youth.
According to a recent World Bank statistics, youth unemployment rate in Nigeria is 68% while a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that 7.9 million Nigerian youth aged 15-34 are currently unemployed.
This is undesirable for the world’s 6th largest exporter of crude oil and should be addressed.

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