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Drug Addiction: NDLEA To Establish Six Rehab Centres In Nigeria

Drug Addiction: NDLEA To Establish Six Rehab Centres In Nigeria

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it plans to establish six standard rehabilitation centres, one in each geo-political zone of Nigeria beginning from 2022.

Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd) disclosed this in Abuja, on Thursday, as a Special Guest of Honour at the 5th Biennial National Symposium on Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria, organised by the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA).

In a statement by Mr. Femi Babafemi, Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, Gen. Marwa, said:

“Substance use and abuse around the world, including Nigeria, is on the increase in terms of the proportion of the world’s population. Findings from the National Drug Use Survey (2018) conducted by the UNODC revealed that 14.4% or 14.3 million Nigerians, aged 15 – 64 years, had used a psychoactive substance in the past year for non-medical purposes, meaning that one in seven persons has used some substances other than alcohol and tobacco.

“More worrisome is the finding that among every four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman. Above findings of the survey by UNODC give a troubling portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria, and we can no longer live in denial that Nigeria has a thriving illicit drug culture.”

He said as part of efforts to stem the tide, the agency has proposed the construction of six standard rehabilitation centres across the six geo-political zones in the country, beginning from next year. He said three of the centres would start next year as already proposed in the 2022 budget.

He enjoined all stakeholders and individuals to join the NDLEA war against the growing threat of substance in the nation, saying that NDLEA could not do it alone.

The Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary and Public Petitions, Mr. Luke Onofiok, described drugs and substance abuse as delicate issues that were fast gaining attention in Nigeria and the world.

Onofiok said there was an increasing indulgence of the Nigerian populace in the injurious pastime of hard drugs consumption.

“The statistics are scary, to say the least, considering the impact of drug use on the economy, productivity, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), crime, law enforcement, and governance.

“The situation should raise concerns among policy makers and among parents, most of whose children are vulnerable, and could slip into the unhealthy drug consumption vortex.’’

Onofiok said there was a broad consensus that many crimes committed in society involved individuals who were under the influences of either alcohol or drugs.

He urged government and policy makers to make available funding to establish treatment facilities and to support and expand existing ones like the Drop-in-centres, earlier initiated and supported by the European Union/UNODC.

“Research and very delicate studies have yielded interesting results, indicating that most drug users who were incarcerated, did not return from supposed correctional facilities better than they went in.

“Whereas those who were committed to treatment facilities turned out with more positive outcomes; most were likely to kick the habit”.

The Executive Director of CRISA, Prof Isidore Obot, said it was not a surprise that the institute decided to focus the theme of the symposium on the link between psychoactive substance use and COVID-19.

Obot said that the pandemic has wreaked havoc and continues to inflict pain across the world, including in Nigeria.

Obot said that: “The use of illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin, and illicit substances like alcohol is associated with COVID-19 in several ways.

“In countries where data are available, we have seen that the stress, anxiety, and depression brought about by COVID have led to an increase in the abuse of stimulants, opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines.

“During the pandemic, we have seen a spike in opioid overdose and related mortality; harmful use of alcohol (in terms of frequency, quantity, and type) has been reported in several countries”.

He noted that the pandemic also had a clear impact on drug supply.

Highlights of the occasion include public presentation of a book entitled “CRISA 30 Years of Impact’’ and the cutting of cake to mark CRISA 30th Anniversary.

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