Drug abuse in Nigeria frightening, says Marwa
• ‘14.3m using psychoactive substances’
• Urges govt to infuse drug education into school subjects
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd), said drug abuse has assumed a frightening dimension in the country, with over 14.3 million Nigerians, aged 15-64, using psychoactive substances.
The most common drug of use is cannabis, followed by pharmaceutical opioids, cocaine and heroine, Marwa explained. He made the disclosure while presenting a paper, titled, ‘Culture, drug abuse and future of Nigerian youths’, at the yearly lecture of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in Abuja, yesterday.
According to Marwa, a national drug use survey revealed that one out of four users is a woman. He said situations, where youths are not well guided, at home or in school, make them choose wrong peers, leading to experimentation with drugs.
Marwa, who was represented by Director, Drug Demand Reduction, Dr. Ngozi Madubuike, said consequences of drug abuse by youths include terrorism, kidnapping, rape, suicide and cultism.
He said addressing drug abuse in Nigeria requires a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration with families and the larger society, while treatment and rehabilitation services should be accessible, affordable and culturally sensitive.
Marwa also stressed the need to infuse drug education and life skills into school subjects and provide preventive drug education to help youths understand dangers inherent in abuse and illicit trafficking.
He said: “The future of Nigerian youths is closely tied to how society addresses the issues of culture and drug abuse. It is essential to empower young people by providing them with quality education, skill development, employment opportunities, access to healthcare and social support systems.”
Also speaking, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said drug and substance abuse among Nigerian youths is a critical issue that deserves urgent action, not only by government and its relevant agencies, but also by families, religious bodies, sociocultural organisations, civil society groups and the mass media.