A policy advocacy platform, Think Tank on Nigeria (TTON), has identified governmental policies among others as major contributing factors to drug abuse in the country.
The group made the observation in a communique issued at the end of its virtual conference on Friday.
According to a communique signed by its Convener, Dideolu Falobi, and others, and sent to PREMIUM TIMES, the group said substance or drug abuse involves the misuse of either legal or illegal drugs for non-therapeutic purposes.
It noted that the issue has become a concern as it is negatively impacting individuals, families, communities, and nations at large
TTON said cultural norms and traditions play a role in the menace and that limited access to education and healthcare services often paves the way to substance abuse.
It identified other factors as psychological distress, such as stress, anxiety or depression which can be triggered. It also said an unstable family environment or the absence of family support can act as precursors.
The group said environmental circumstances, like poverty or residing in areas with easy drug availability, can also lead to abuse. It further noted that certain substances, like alcohol and tobacco, are more socially acceptable, making them more accessible and easier to misuse.
TTON, however, charged parents to act as friends rather than authority figures to their teenage children during this pivotal stage.
It said adolescence can be daunting and that without proper guidance, the young ones might feel isolated and lost.
‘By engaging in open dialogues and sharing personal stories from their own teenage years, parents can offer insights into managing relationships and balancing academic pursuits with personal aspirations.
‘It’s crucial for parents to provide encouragement, especially during trying times. The goal should be to establish a foundation of trust, enabling children to confide any issues, including those related to substance abuse, the group said.
It said that preventing and eradicating substance abuse necessitates a holistic approach, engaging a broad spectrum of stakeholders: individuals, families, community organisations, law enforcement bodies, healthcare professionals, and governmental entities.
TTON stressed that addressing the root causes and key contributing factors is pivotal, pointing out that several tactics have proven effective, prominently centring around education about the perils of substance abuse.
‘To effectively address drug abuse and addiction in Nigeria, sustained efforts and a multi-sectoral approach are indispensable. Strict enforcement of policies, paired with appropriate penalties for offenders, is essential to maintain the policies’ effectiveness. Nigeria has put forth several strategies and programs to combat drug abuse and addiction’, the body added.
The conference spotlighted several potential solutions for curbing drug abuse in Nigeria, which include heightening awareness about the hazards associated with drug consumption
‘A primary measure in preventing and eradicating substance abuse entails heightening awareness about the hazards associated with drug consumption. Achieving this involves spearheading public health campaigns and educational drives especially tailored for the youth’.
‘Education emerges as a pivotal instrument in the fight against substance abuse. Through informed educational initiatives, individuals garner the knowledge and acumen necessary for making enlightened choices about drug consumption. Furthermore, education aids in diminishing stigma while fostering a deeper comprehension of the triggers and repercussions of substance abuse.
‘It’s paramount to furnish easily accessible drug treatment and rehabilitation avenues for those grappling with substance abuse. Comprehensive offerings should encompass counselling, therapeutic interventions, group support sessions, and the facilitation of medication-assisted treatments,” the group said.
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