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Hard drugs users in Nigeria rise to 14.3 million


Osagie Ehanire

A report on drugs use and health released yesterday shows that Nigeria has about 14.3 million hard drugs users aged between 15 and 64 years.

The survey, conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA), supported by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union (EU), revealed a significant increase in 2018 prevalence of drug use in Nigeria from the 2017 global prevalence of 5.6 per cent among the country’s adult population.

However, the Federal Government is to review the National Drug Control Master Plan (2015 to 2019) to set the priorities for drug control in Nigeria from 2020 to 2024.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, lamented that the findings of the survey were alarming, and called for concerted efforts to mitigate the negative consequences of the menace on the health, socio-economic and security of the nation.

He observed that People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) constitute a sizeable proportion of high-risk drugs users with pharmaceutical opioids, followed by cocaine and heroin as the commonly injected drugs.

Ehanire noted that there was also a considerable level of non-medical use of prescription opioids such as tramadol and cough syrup containing codeine or dextromethorphan. He said: “These are serious public health issues that require that we strengthen our drug demand reduction strategies with focus on evidence-based drug use prevention, treatment and continuum of care.

“Similarly, the results and dataset from this survey can also be used for further research work to develop targeted programmes and services for drug users and their families.”

Government is developing a National Policy for Prescription of Controlled Medicines as part of measures to ensure that pharmaceutical opioids and other controlled medicines are prescribed by licensed physicians and dispensed by licensed pharmacists in registered premises, he noted.

Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Drug Abuse, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (rtd.), said the abuse of drugs by youths had become one of the most disturbing health-related phenomena across the globe, and a major health issue in Nigeria.

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Osagie Ehanire
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