By Kabir Fagge Ali
The rate of drug and illicit substances abuse among Nigerian youths is alarming. It is heading towards a national emergency, which should be considered and treated appropriately with the kind of attention it deserves in our today’s modern society.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in the last 24 years, cannabis potency has increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent.
This is despite the evidence that cannabis use is associated with various health issues and other harms, especially among regular long-term users.
Meanwhile, a worrisome development that should not be treated with levity is that there are 11 million cannabis users in Nigeria, a third of whom seem to be regular users needing drug counselling.
Similarly, the world drug report further noted that “Between 2010 and 2019, the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent, owing to global population growth. Based on demographic changes alone, current projections suggest an 11 per cent rise in the number of people who use drugs globally by 2030 – and a marked increase of 40 per cent in Africa due to its rapidly growing and young population. In Nigeria, this would signify that the country will have to grapple with approximately 20 million drug users by 2030, further deepening the public health and public security challenge”.
Recall that the Chairman of the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, a retired major general, while reeling out some statistics, said Nigeria was not only the highest user of cannabis worldwide but that revelations from kidnapped victims had corroborated the facts that illicit substances were enablers of insecurity currently plaguing the country.
He noted, “it is not difficult to conclude that drugs have been catalysts of terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and various violent conflicts currently troubling the country.
The consequences of drug abuse can never be overemphasized, as it has birthed a lot of problems not only in the family but in the nation and the international community. Medical issues associated with drug abuse include mental disorders, liver cirrhosis, lethargy, irritability, and heart disorders. Studies also reveal that drug addiction contributes largely to social consequences such as internet fraud, gang formation, disruption of normal educational activities, cultism, violence, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, sexual abuse, and reduced productivity.
Experts asserted that so many factors are responsible for indulging youths in drug and substances abuse worldwide. These include but are not limited to reasons such as; Parental abuse, depression, peer pressure, peer group influence, the proliferation of quacks in the drug trade, early childhood and adult trauma, and environmental circumstances.
Drug and alcohol abuse in Nigeria are serious problems and has mainly contributed to the sorry state of our dear nation. Therefore, we can no longer continue to ignore the implication of such action as it poses a threat to our lives and that of the upcoming generations.
Talking about the way out – the government alone cannot eradicate this social menace. It is a joint task involving every individual, community, family, school, civil society, religious organization, the media, business entities, and traditional leaders to halt the ugly trend.
Most of these drug abusers are jobless individuals roaming about the streets. Thus, the government should step up an effort to provide them with jobs, while others could be empowered with the necessary skills and tools to start their own business to carter for themselves and their family.
Again, the government should remember that stemming the tide of drug abuse is akin to solving the security challenges currently bedevilling the country. The time to take action is long overdue.
Fagge is a Student of Mass Communication at Skyline University Nigeria. He sent this article via email@example.com.