Poor parental guidance, peer pressure cause of drug abuse — Experts
As the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was observed last Wednesday, experts have described the menace as a growing global concern. Already, stakeholders are working to unravel and find solution to this problem, which not only affect people today, but also seriously endangers society’s future.
Some of the causes advanced by experts include decline in family values, lack of parental guidance, peer pressure, social media influence and unemployment. So, all these have to be addressed to make any headway in the quest for prevention.
The Director, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, (NAFDAC) Lagos State Office, Pharm. Mrs. Edosa Ogbeide said consequences of drug abuse in today’s society are many and varied. She said: “We encounter them in young people of both sexes, who have abandoned home and school to live in joints and under the bridges chasing and seeking drugs.
“We encounter them in the many drug related traffic accidents, which claim many lives every year. We meet them in the hospitals, where many people are in bed with different sorts of drug induced or related diseases. We encounter them in the numerous cases of robbery, kidnapping, shoplifting and other violent crimes.”
Ogbeide stated that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that one out of every four high risk drug users have been arrested for drug related offences, including possession (73 per cent), theft (12 per cent) sex work (five per cent,), burglary (four per cent) and shop lifting (two per cent.)
“Note that this data only shows the number of arrests,” she explained. “So, if we consider that most crimes go unreported, then we will see that we have a huge problem on our hands. Two thirds of people, who abuse drugs reported having serious problems as a result, which include, missing school or work, doing poor jobs at work or school and even neglecting their family or children. These show us the bane of our society and why we must do all we can to protect our nation.”
She said her organisation was doing a lot to rid the society of the problem, by ensuring that the drugs are available in right quantities to those who need them for medical and research purposes, while ensuring that they are unavailable to those who abuse them.
“We regret to note that despite our efforts in achieving this, several drugs in unapproved strengths continue to infiltrate our country through our porous borders. This is especially true of tramadol, and we will continue to work until we stamp this out…” she said.
Ogbeide said it was obvious there was a pressing need for comprehensive programmes that would incorporate evidence-based attributes of drug abuse prevention – those that have been proven to work, as well as achieve specific measurable outcomes. Psychiatrist and Former Senior Registrar at Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital (FNPH), Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Olusegun Akinwotu, advised parents to caution their children against use of such hard drugs as India hemp, especially among the youths to avoid mental illness.
He said: “Aside drug abuse, other predisposing/environmental factors that may lead to mental illness include a family history of mental illness, adverse conditions in early years, such as birth head trauma, infections affecting the brain, early separation from parents, poor living conditions, rape, war, famine, low socioeconomic status, personality disorder, unemployment, lack of a spouse, loss of close relatives or friends, loss of a job or loss of properties, economic recession, kidnapped victims and terrorism, among others.
“The signs showing that a patient is tending towards developing mental disorder as a result of drug abuse include, sudden or gradual distinct change in behaviour, poor sleep, easy irritability, deterioration in quality of academic or work performance, decline in hygiene, lack of concern about their progress/achievement, lack of concern about potentially dangerous situations, increase in the use of psychoactive substances such as cannabis, alcohol, cocaine, absenteeism from school or work with no tenable excuse.
“To identify a case, family members should pay attention to everyone and take note of any change from their regular pattern of behaviour, especially adults, whose personalities are already formed. Listen to their speech to see if it is irrelevant or becoming excessive or reduced. Observe their sleep pattern, appetite, actions and motivating factors. They can become paranoia and due to this, refuse to eat meals cooked at home, among others.”
Akinwotu urged parents to take steps, when they notice their children are involved in drug abuse or develop mental illness, by seeking a mental health specialist’s attention. He said: “This will aid early identification and intervention, which is a good prognosis for better management outcome. Lifestyle that can prevent mental illness include, observing adequate sleep, eating balanced healthy diet, physical exercise, self-improvement through skills acquisition or knowledge, improved interpersonal relationships, associate with people that will bring out the best in you, for instance, religious or social groups, adequate rest, take vacations and spend quality time with family and friends.
“Having a positive outlook about life is also essential. It is imperative to avoid drinking excessively, avoid smoking cigarette and avoid risky dangerous behaviours, regulate salt, fatty foods and sugar intake, as these may precipitate physical illnesses that may predispose to mental disorder. Carrying out regular medical check up will reduce the risk of developing mental illness.
He explained that mental illness is a medical condition like other chronic illnesses, and that it is treatable.He said: “Individuals who present in the mental health facility can live normally and attain optimal quality of life. Once you have any suspicion that the symptoms look like that of mental disorder, please seek the intervention of the psychiatrists early. Patients can be taken to Federal neuropsychiatric hospital at LUTH or LASUTH. Do not stigmatise them. Do not look down on them. They are humans like you and I. They deserve adequate and specialist care and attention because they do not know what is happening to them.”
A Family Physician, Dr. Chukwuma Ogunbor, said there was need to reduce availability of drugs to abusers, improve availability for genuine needs, educate people, especially youths on the need to stay away from drug abuse, with special emphasis on how they will be able to successfully do so.He said: “There is also need to improve access to drug treatment centres, harm reduction programmes, improve access to treatment of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, HIV and Hepatitis amongst drug users among whom the prevalence are higher, compared to the general population.”
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