Drug abuse and Nigerian youths
SIR: The current health situation of Nigerian youths is disheartening and worrisome considering their engagement into hard drug abuses. Over 11 per cent of youth’s population in Nigeria take hard drugs like Syrup, tramadol, Diazepam, cocaine, Shisha mix among others. A report from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) said around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders, according to the 2021 world drug report released by the UNODC. As the 2018 National Drug Use Survey revealed, in Nigeria at that time there were around 14.3 million drug users of which close to three million suffered from a drug use disorder.
The World Drug Report further noted that in the last 24 years cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent, despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, especially among regular long-term users. It is a worrisome trend, considering that there are 11 million cannabis users in Nigeria, a third of whom seemed to be regular users with a need for drug counselling.
Between 2010 and 2019, the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent, owing in part to global population growth. Based on demographic changes alone, current projections suggest an 11 per cent rise in the number of people who use drugs globally by 2030 – and a marked increase of 40 per cent in Africa, due to its rapidly growing and young population. In Nigeria, this would signify that the country will have to grapple with approximately 20 million drug users by 2030, further deepening the public health and public security challenge.
According to the latest global estimates, about 5.5 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the total number of persons who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders. In Nigeria, with 14.4 per cent the drug use prevalence is significantly higher than the global average.
I will commend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) under the able leadership of General Muhammad Buba Marwa (rtd) for his commitment in ensuring that he sanitises the country from drug abuses, but I want to urge NDLEA and relevant authorities to take necessary action for those found guilty of supplying these hard drugs into the country.
Lastly, parents should ensure that their children mingle with good friends and also monitor all their day to day activities; and to Nigerian youths, avoid using hard drugs because you are putting your life in danger. Smoking of any kind brings about diseases like lungs cancer and hepatitis C among others.
Yunusa Usman Chindo.