ENDING DRUG ABUSE and ILLICIT TRAFFICKING IN NIGERIA
Today is the international day to end drug abuse and illicit trafficking and on Morning Crossfire the duo of Wemimo Adewuni and Sherif Quadri take a look at the problem of drug use in Nigeria. Some of the salient questions raised during the show are: what is drug abuse? How is NDLEA doing to monitor the movement of drugs and care for people who are suffering from drug abuse? How can one detect the problem of drug use in others? And what advice can be given to people who suffer from use of illicit drugs?
The co-hosts on Morning Crossfire 99.3 Nigeria Info FM are joined by the following entities:
Social Worker, Addiction Therapy, Advocacy Coordinator Freedom Foundation, Master Trainer for the UNODC, Olusesan Samuel Kayode.
Psychiatrist, Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Dr Kike Oyekanmi.
Principal Staff Officer, Operations & Investigations, NDLEA, Mr Ogukwe Humphrey.
Kayode says, “Nobody is born a drug user, and nobody starts his or her own life and says ‘I want to become a professional drug user,’ life happens. Will you call a person who has diabetes a useless human being? Because they have a drug use challenge does not mean they are useless people. That’s the mindset we have about them when we call them addicts,” Humphrey says.
“You don’t define a man by his situation. We can call them persons that have drug use disorder and that abuses drugs. When we use the word ‘addict’ some people say that it is stigmatizing and it stereotypes them. And I love a shirt that I want to start wearing now. It has the words ‘Nice People Use Drugs’.”
Kayode continues, “A lot of people have this mindset that when you use drugs you are a useless person, you don’t have strong will, or you can’t be productive. But the truth of the matter is I have heard of a doctor who would take drugs before performing surgery. Those are functional users. I’m not saying everybody should do that but there are some people who take drugs and they are down and are not productive in any way but drugs take millions of naira from them each year."
How can one determine if a close companion has drug use problem? Dr. Kike said: "So many went into drug abuse because they had a psychological problem. For example, people that have the dysthymia are chronically depressed, and they sometimes see that these drugs offer some respite. For such persons, forcing them to take the treatment for the under-lying cause gets the drug use to abate. There are other youths who have defective personalities because of low self-esteem, their assertiveness is zero, they cannot say no when faced with pressure. For such persons too, when they are very young, they can still be helped in the way of motivational therapy and other treatments. Older persons cannot be forced but a teenager who is still below 18 under a parent, can be forced."
To know that a person has drugs problem depends on the person, says Kike. “The caregivers or parents must pay close attention to the nuances of that person’s behavior and they can begin to see some changes. It may not be a dramatic, overt change, these may just be small changes such as the person becoming more reclusive, and then others may think that as he’s becoming a teenager, he wants privacy. Then if they go into his room there’s a strong smell of perfume. They should begin to suspect his behavior. In the other way, they may be seeing changes of the eyes, such as the eyes becoming red, also some changes may come about on the person’s character, such as the person looking at the adult he talks to them when previously he could not; these are signs that parents may see in a teenager and say that ‘Oh he’s growing!’ yet these spell trouble.”
Statistics and Treatments
Globally, there are 255 million people who have used illicit drugs in their lifetime and only 29.5 million of that number are actually hooked on drugs. Only about 13 million of them ask for help, and only about 5 million have been able to access help. As at 2016 there was a survey by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to check the total number of beds we have in Nigeria for drug use disorders and it was found that we have less than a thousand beds.
Treatments: NDLEA goes to communities, talking to families and also speak to people at some religious places. These are some of the places where people who want help can be found. NDLEA cannot handle all cases but it refers people who need help to places like Yaba or Aro. The reasons for referring them are those that often leads to psychiatry problems.
In conclusion, Dr. Kike Oyekanmi gave this advice to millions of drug abusers: Don’t give up, you can achieve your goals and aims, cry out for help. Also, Humphrey reassures on the efforts of NDLEA. He says that the organization is not resting on its oars and will keep doing its best in ridding Nigeria of its drug problem.
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ENDING DRUG ABUSE & ILLICIT TRAFFICKING IN NIGERIA
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