-Says 1 in 7 Nigerians ages 15 to 64 abuse drugs
Worried by the daily increase in number of Nigerians involved in drug and substance abuse, a development which has been attributed to the rise in crime rate, economic burden and HIV infection, Nigerian scientists have called on governments at all levels to invest in evidence-based treatment, which has proven to decrease negative health consequences and social effects of substance dependence and drug abuse.
The pharmacists and researchers asserted that for every dollar spent on treatment of drugs and substance addicts, 7 dollars are returned in cost-savings, as the treatment is proven to be cost-effective in both developed and developing countries, which costs less than imprisonment, they suggested.
The scientists made the remarks during the webinar organised by the National Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) Friday, in commemoration of the 2020 International Day against Drug Abuse and illicit trafficking.
Themed: “Better knowledge for better care”, the webinar which was well attended by about 150 participants had distinguished scientists and pharmacists in attendance with the likes of the PSN President, Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa; Pharm. (Sir) Paul Enebeli; Pharm. Ibrahim Binji, vice chairman, PSN Board of Fellows; Prof. ISSA Baba Awoye, consultant psychiatrist; Dr Ojo, Adeniyi Obaloluwa, CEO Merit Healthcare Ltd; Dr Kingsley Amibor, national chairman AHAPN; Ambrose Umoru,CN, Kwara State Commander, NDLEA; Pharm.(Mrs) Mewu-Umuche Chinenye; Federal Neuropsychriatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, and a host of others.
Speaking on the theme of the event, Prof. ISSA Baba Awoye, consultant psychiatrist, emphasised the need to drastically reduce the incidence of substance dependence in Nigeria in order to curb other affiliated crimes to it. He endeavoured to demystify several myths associated with substance abuse, as he revealed that 114 countries have reported HIV infections related to injection drug use.
Contrary to the believe in some quarters that Nigerians do not have drug-related challenges, Awoye said no country is immune to substance related problems. “Substance users are found worldwide among men, women and youth. Incidence of substance dependence are on the rise, and in many countries substance use is the driving force for other epidemics”.
He further clarified the widespread notion that drug and alcohol related problems only affect individuals in developed countries, saying the condition is more prevalent among the poor in developed countries, as there is strong evidence showing an increase in drug-related problems in developing countries with a significant impact on mortality, disease and injury
The consultant psychiatrist also countered the belief which discourages further research on drug and alcohol related problems for policy making, arguing that drug and alcohol using behaviours are dynamic, with emergent patterns changing depending on factors such as: availability of drugs, introduction of new drugs, new modes of administration and rapid social changes.
He therefore called for more research into the development of new treatments and preventive strategies, support services and to understand the associations between substance dependence and other risky behaviours. The new challenges of HIV related to injecting drug use pose a new focus for further research.
Dr Obalolu Ojo, in his presentation highlighted the national and international prevalence of drug abuse noting that 14.3 million of the world’s population abuse drugs in one way or the other, while 1 in 7 Nigerians ages 15 to 64 have used drugs.
His compilation of drug abuse statistics further shows that 1 in 5 users are addicted in Nigeria, with 1 in 11 globally, 1 in 4 users are women in Nigeria, which forms 3 per cent of the nation’s population, while 6 per cent misuse Cannabis.
He further disclosed that 14 per cent of the Nigerian population are opioids mis-users, a situation which has led to the country ranking 5th in global suicide rates, surge in sudden death, rape and other crimes.
To prevent and subdue this monstrous enemy of man, Ojo suggested a multidimensional approach in addressing the problem of drug abuse, which will involve: Family, community/religious group, utterances & action, youth groups, positive peer pressure, government, empower agencies, sanitise distribution of drugs, stimulate economy, alternative engagement, professional/trade groups.
Earlier in his goodwill message, the PSN President condemned unauthorised access to drugs in the country, which is fuelling spike in violent gangs’ activities in several parts of the nation, as he called on regulatory agencies to beef up more surveillance on drugs and substance circulation in Nigeria.
He argued that by training and statute, medicines and drugs are supposed to be under the control of pharmacists. “Therefore any abuse or illicit trafficking must challenge our custodial responsibilities. Are we falling short in our responsibility? How come controlled and psychoactive drugs get passed the gatekeepers? It bothers me and believe must bother all of us here”, he propelled them.