Policy Advocacy Group Blames Govt Policies for Prevailing Drug Abuse

A Policy Advocacy Platform, Think-Tank on Nigeria (TTON) with membership cutting across various professions representing different geo-political zones of Nigeria has identified governmental policies, among others, as a major contributing factor to drug abuse in the country.

The platform made the observation in a communique issued at the end of members deliberation, noting that general observations included substance abuse, commonly referred to as drug abuse, involving the misuse of either legal or illegal drugs for non-therapeutic purposes.

The platform headed by Engr. Dideolu Falobi in a communique endorsed by 300 members lamented that this issue was a growing concern, negatively impacting individuals, families, communities, and nations at large.

The communique stated that cultural norms, and traditions played a role in the menace, as well as limited access to education, while healthcare services often paved the way to substance abuse, and identified other factors as psychological distress, such as stress, anxiety, or depression which can be triggers, as well as an unstable family environment or the absence of family support can act as precursors.

The communique noted other factors as environmental circumstances, like poverty or residing in areas with easy drug availability, which it claimed could be influential, stressing those certain substances, like alcohol and tobacco, were more socially acceptable, making them more accessible and easier to misuse.

The platform, however, charged parents that they should strive to act as friends, rather than authority figures to their teenagers during this pivotal stage, noting that adolescence could be daunting, and without proper guidance, young individuals might feel isolated and lost.

“By engaging in open dialogues and sharing personal stories from their own teenage years, parents can offer insights into managing relationships and balancing academic pursuits with personal aspirations”, the communique stated.

“It’s crucial for parents to provide encouragement, especially during trying times. The goal should be to establish a foundation of trust, enabling children to confide any issues, including those related to substance abuse”, the group added.

The group stated that preventing and eradicating substance abuse necessitated a holistic approach, engaging a broad spectrum of stakeholders: individuals, families, community organizations, law enforcement bodies, healthcare professionals, and governmental entities.

The communique emphasised that addressing the root causes and key contributing factors was pivotal, pointing out that several tactics had proven effective, prominently centering around education about the perils of substance abuse.

“To effectively address drug abuse and addiction in Nigeria, sustained efforts and a multi-sectoral approach are indispensable. Strict enforcement of policies, paired with appropriate penalties for offenders, is essential to maintain the policies’ effectiveness. Nigeria has put forth several strategies and programs to combat drug abuse and addiction”, the body added.

The meeting during the discussion, spotlighted several potential solutions for curbing drug abuse in Nigeria which included heightening awareness about the hazards associated with drug consumption

“A primary measure in preventing and eradicating substance abuse entails heightening awareness about the hazards associated with drug consumption. Achieving this involves spearheading public health campaigns and educational drives especially tailored for the youth.

“Education emerges as a pivotal instrument in the fight against substance abuse. Through informed educational initiatives, individuals garner the knowledge and acumen necessary for making enlightened choices about drug consumption. Furthermore, education aids in diminishing stigma while fostering a deeper comprehension of the triggers and repercussions of substance abuse.

“It’s paramount to furnish easily accessible drug treatment and rehabilitation avenues for those grappling with substance abuse. Comprehensive offerings should encompass counselling, therapeutic interventions, group support sessions, and the facilitation of medication-assisted treatments”, it noted.