Eminent medical practitioners including Dr A. B. Awesu, consultant psychiatrist, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos; Dr Tajudeen Abiola, consultant psychiatrist, Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Kaduna, and Dr Ibrahim Oreagba, associate professor of Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology, University of Lagos, have condemned the high rate of drug abuse among young adults in Nigeria, saying the menace has now become a serious health and social issue rendering its users unproductive and dangerous.
Speaking at a workshop on ‘Addiction Prevention’, organised by the Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria (IMAN), Lagos State Chapter, in collaboration with Nigerian Green Crescent Health Development Initiative (GHI), at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi (NOHI) Lagos, recently, Dr Oreagba, described addiction as an act of surrendering or enslaving oneself to something, such as drug or any activity.
According to the don, drug addiction is a major destroyer of the youth, as it kills more than automobile accident, gun accident, and all other forms of accidents combined. He added that over 60 percent of Nigerian youths, especially in the south-west, consumed various forms of illicit drugs; a development he said had made them irresponsible to themselves and the society.
Oreagba, a member of the GHI, and national vice president, IMAN, noted that some of the factors that predispose so many youths to drug abuse and addiction include: peer pressure, curiosity, ignorance, academic induced frustration, lack of parental care, indiscipline, lack of significant relationship with caring adult, lack of mutual attachment and nurture by parents and caregivers, among many others.
While speaking on a topic:“Preventive Treatment in Drug Addiction”, Dr A. B. Awesu, stated that drug abuse and addiction cut across the society, the rich or the poor, the villagers or the city dwellers, the males or the females, the young or the old, saying for its effective prevention, it must involve the different sections of the society.
He urged parents to be good role models to their children, as well as establish and maintain good communication with them early, on the danger of drug abuse and addiction, saying dysfunctional family can lead to drug abuse.
In his submission, Dr Tajudeen Abiola identified high availability of drugs in the communities, poverty, high population density, and lack of knowledge on what to do by parents and teachers as some of the major reasons for maladaptive use of addictive substances and activities in the country.
“Addiction is dangerous as it robs one of ability to recognise one’s problem, thereby forcing the family to take action against the addict like sending him to jail or forceful rehab. This could also cause a huge burden on the family and circle of friends, because of fear that the addict is getting harm or hurt,” he said.
The consultant psychiatrist therefore called on the Federal Government to implement policies that would keep the adolescent safe from drugs, while urging other organisations to partner IMAN, in order to organise more seminars and workshops to enlighten youths on the consequences of drug abuse and addiction.
Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman, IMAN, Lagos State Chapter, and chief medical director, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, Dr Mustapha Alimi, noted that the issue of illicit drugs use had reached an alarming proportion in the country, adding that this is why such intervention by IMAN is apt, which rates the health of Nigerians a priceless treasure, by providing healthcare services for the sick and instituting interventions that both prevent the onset of illness and promote wellness.
Other dignitaries at the awareness campaign include: Pharm. (Mrs) Sadia Modupe-Ore, deputy director, Pharmacy, NOHI; Pharm. Usman Sikiru Olatunji, Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, UNILAG; Dr Abdulahi Lawal, deputy president, IMAN, Lagos State; Mrs Shekinat Abdulfatai, financial secretary, IMAN, Lagos State; Pharm. Afusat Adeshina, among others.