Health professionals have condemn the rising use and addiction to illicit drug by the Nigerian youths and the attendant danger it portend for the future of Nigeria. This is coming on the heels of increase in criminal activities like banditry, kidnappings, terrorism and suicides; of which the youth have had a fair share among the perpetrators.
Speakers made the clarion call during a health weekend programme organized by the Mighty God Parish, headquarters of the Lagos Province 57 of The Redeemed Christian Church of God. The theme of the conference was, “The Challenge of Drug/Substance Abuse in our Society.
Dr. Henrietta Nwamaka Igbokwe, who is the acting head, department of Pharmaceutical, Microbiology and Biotechnology at College of Medicine, University of Lagos and one of the lectures at the event describes drug abuse as an extreme desire to obtain and use increasing or decreasing quantity of one or more drug(s) and its addiction as a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addict and those around him/her.
This has become a global concern among the youth, going by the dangers posed by the abuse, which include brain, kidney or liver damage, hypertension, damage to unborn babies, impaired visual ability, cancer, depression, respiratory illness, distorted perception, reduced coordination and hallucination. Other consequences are criminal offences, prostitution, cultism, mental illness and premature death, among others. Igbokwe, in proffering solution to drug abuse urged everyone to avoid the use of drugs without prescription, say no to hard drugs, live a drug-free life because a healthy child is the beginning of a healthy nation.
In his submission, Dr. Wale Ige, the assistant Commander General of Narcotics at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA revealed evidence-based facts of drug abuse in Nigeria. He said a National Drug Use Survey conducted by UNODC (2018) showed that an estimated 14.3 million people in Nigeria and between the ages of 15 and 64 years had used psychoactive substances other than alcohol and tobacco, estimated 10.6 million Nigerians had used cannabis in the past year and that age at first use of cannabis in Nigeria was 10 years. He also said that a recent NDLEA statistics between January and March, 2o22 revealed that 677 drug traffickers were jailed, 3359 arrested, 65,915.891kg assorted drugs and substances seized, while 2,223 drug users were counseled by the agency. He appealed to adolescents and youths to say NO to drugs in all situations and circumstances, however tempting, walk away when approached, avoid risk areas/bad friend, engage in religious activities, exercises and sports; and when in a dilemma, confide in their school teacher, parents, religious leaders or any trusted adult.
The moderator of the event, who is also the medical director of Brafus Specialist Hospital, Ogba, Lagos, Dr. Dominion Charles-Davies urged parents to be more involved in the affairs of their adolescents as it is easier to input values into them from young age.
The parish pastor of the host church, Godfrey Iluobe promised that next year’s Health Weekend programme, which also encompasses aerobics and physical exercise for participants will be more beneficial, educative and informative. In her closing remarks, the wife of the provincial pastor, Pastor (Mrs) Kehinde Grace Oluwaniyi pledged to take the gospel for health for all across all the parishes in the province. She also admonished churches and parents to take a pivotal role in raising a society that is drug-free but spirit-filled.