U.S. consulate urges control of substance abuse to promote Nigeria’s economic growth
Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consular General, Lagos, Russell Brooks, has advised Nigeria to curb substance abuse among its teeming population to boost the country’s economic growth and attain its true potential as a global powerhouse.
Brooks made the remark at the National Training of Trainers on School Based Track of the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) for Substance Use Disorders in Nigeria held at Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
He pointed out that substance abuse was a global public health challenge, as research has shown that 14.3 million Nigerians between the ages of 16 and 64 years were victims of the scourge.
“If we are concerned about the growth of Africa, then we must promote policies and programmes that reduce substance abuse in Nigeria, said to be the most popular country on the continent,” he said.He said the prevalence of drug abuse has increased over the past five years in the country, while more adolescents are being initiated into the act.
“Due to rapid pace of change in the economic and social sphere and prevailing political instability in the country, alcohol and other psychoactive substance use and related problems are becoming major public concerns.
“Research indicates that substance use starts in youth that can be prevented and various prevention programmes exist. However, there are gaps in knowledge about the applicability of these programmes in Africa,” he said.
Noting that societal, parental neglect and negative peer influence are major factors that promote substance abuse among youths, Brooks urged that all hands should be on deck to curb the spread of the menace.
Pointing out that alcohol and substance abuse could hinder young people from achieving their goals, Brooks said community-based efforts, supportive parents and teachers will help discourage them from it and improve their academic performance in readiness for the workforce.
National Coordinator, Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) and Executive Director, Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA), Dr. Martin Agwogie, disclosed that the training came six months after the first programme in January.
“Since the first training of trainers, six batches of practitioners’ training have been conducted with 153 practitioners imparted in evidence-based substance abuse prevention in Nigeria.
“Our target is to train 2,000 practitioners in this area in the next one year, out of the 6 batches of training, one was specifically dedicated to Principals of selected secondary schools in Lagos State with 30 participants,” he said.