New Telegraph

November 28, 2023

Mitigating the scourge of drug abuse

There is no doubt that Nigeria is grossly challenged with a growing scourge of insecurity ravaging the land across the nooks and crannies of the country. Nigeria, which used to be the pride of not just Africa but the black race, is currently being challenged in a scale that has never been seen before prompting many to think that the country is on the verge of being termed a failed state. A cursory look at the problem of insecurity plaguing the country will no doubt reveal the negative role being played by youths in the problem which is assuming a frightening dimension.

Those being arrested by security agents are mostly youths who ordinarily should be engaged in productive and developmental pursuits. Owing to numerous factors bordering on a downturn in the nation’s economic fortunes, many of these youths are becoming very idle thus becoming ready tools in the hands of criminal elements in the country. Demographically, the youths make up 65 per cent of the nation’s population, which calls for great concern by all well-meaning stakeholders within and outside the country who are wondering why the larger Nigerian society has not done much to harness the energy of the teeming young Nigerians for sustainable development and growth.

There is a Yoruba saying that states that no one wilfully causes harm to the common good of all without necessary inducement of drugs or any other psychotropic items that seek to propel such individuals to act in a manner that runs contrary to the accepted societal norms.

This is to say that the effect of uncontrolled drug or other substance abuse by the teeming unemployed and vocational unengaged youths is impacting negatively on the general society. It is a common knowledge that most of the arrested culprits linked to social vices such as armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism and the likes are youths who have been linked to unrestrained and sustained drug abuse. Apart from the society, this scourge can also be linked to parental failure occasioned by the near collapse of the family structure which sociologists have come to see as the smallest unit of any country.

It is generally believed that children imbibe whatever value that has been instilled into him by the family who are expected to serve as the appropriate moral compass to him. Looking at the state of the nation, it would be safe to conclude that quality parenting has indeed collapsed with parents and guardians shirking their divine mandate of providing for the material, moral and the instructional needs of their children.

As parents, it is incumbent upon us all to take more than passing interest on the activities as well as behavioural attitude and patter of our children. We must always observe them critically to know or ascertain whenever they are veering away from accepted norms. When a noticeable pattern has been ascertained, efforts must, however be geared towards making the right and appropriate remedial efforts that would intimately return them back to the formal state of sanity and proper behaviour in the interest of the larger society, which seeks order as a tonic for development and growth. Added to this, the parents must devote time to ascertaining the company being kept by their kids and wards both at home and in school.

It is unfortunate to note that these youths are mostly victims of peer pressure. Left alone and considering the value being instilled on them at home, many of these kids would not wilfully become social deviants and derelicts and drug abusers but many of them usually are victims of untold pressure being mounted on them by their peers.

They eventually succumb to such pressure when the parents fail to act accordingly by rendering their duty of being the much needed guidance and support to their children and wards. Sadly, parents are grossly lacking in rendering the right parental guidance to their kids and wards thus leaving them to the manipulations of unscrupulous members of the society who would turn them against the general interest of the society.

These children who have been left unattended to by their parents have become susceptible to the manipulation of drug barons and cartels that have succeeded in turning them to either user or object of trafficking to facilitate their not too noble trade. Apart from the parents, the society also holds as a duty to help train the kids by assisting the parents correct their kids when they veer off from the accepted societal norms and values. Not only do youths engage in uncontrolled use of psychotropic drugs, some of them including adults engage in the use of medicated drugs in a manner that runs contrary to prescription medications which are considered as hallucinogenic when taken to the next level.

These are drugs that have controlled usage because there has to be a doctor’s prescription before they could be sold to any needy customer across the counter by any chemist or pharmacist. Unfortunately, many of these drugs are loosely being controlled as they could be found and bought anywhere across the country without any form or inhibition by those that want to abuse them for hallucinogenic purposes.

Many abusers who would ordinarily obtain a prescription from a certified medical practitioner have found a way to beat that chain by buying such drugs across the counter unrestrained. One very good example is the abuse to which the youth subject a medical drug Tramadol to.

The medication, which is for curing common coughs and colds, is not more commonly abused by them for psychotropic use. Faced with the potential of a looming large scale epidemic, the Federal Government with the help of stakeholders within and outside the country have put in place a mechanism for mitigating the trend in a manner that would ensure that teeming mass of Nigerian youths are prevented from the scourge. The effect of misuse of both medical and psychotropic drugs over time has caused the Federal Government to set up the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to combat the scourge in a holistic manner such as prevention and arrest as well as rehabilitation of victims of the menace in its (NDLEA) many rehabilitation centres across the country. Added to this, the agency under the leadership of retired Brigadier General Muhammed Buba Marwa has been waging a relentless war against barons who trade in these drugs in a scale that has never before seen in the history of the country.

More and more of these agents of death are being hunted down and arrested. The agency has also succeeded largely in blocking avenues for which this evil merchandise finds its way into the country, especially through the land, sea and air borders to prevent their entry.

The agency has even stepped up its advocacy efforts by leveraging on its partnership with stakeholders to provide proper education especially to the youth to stay off drugs. NDLEA has also rehabilitated its numerous rehabilitation facilities for taking care of victims of the scourge across the country. Apart from noticeable facelifts to the structures of these centres, many of these facilities are also being provided with the right equipment and personnel to be able to carry out its mandate. As individuals, we must also make it a point of duty to educate youths as well as other vulnerable groups on the dangers of engaging in the use of these drugs in our respective spheres of influence. This is because we are all interconnected as stakeholders in any given society. This is because whatever affects someone either positively or negatively in the society has a way of impacting on the collective whole.

Bakare writes from Abuja

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