FG laments high usage of psychoactive substances by adolescents

Ngige explains delay of NSITF board inauguration
Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour
United Bank for Africa

The Federal Government on Thursday expressed concern on the high usage of psychoactive substances by adolescents in the country.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, expressed the worry in Abuja at the 13th biennial international conference on ‘Drugs, Alcohol and Society in Africa.’

The two-day conference was on the theme: ‘Substance use and sustainable development in Africa, strengthening the evidence base for policy and action.’

Ngige, who was represented by Mrs Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, Director, Occupational Safety and Health, stressed that research on adolescents both in- and out-of-school in Nigeria ignorantly depended on hard drug for daily activities.

He mentioned such drugs to include tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, codeine, heroine, alcohol and rophynol.

He also mentioned that unemployment and frustration were other things that could provoke drug usage and addiction.

Ngige, therefore, said that government was sparring no effort in tackling unemployment in Nigeria to help reduce the menace of drug abuse and addiction.

He added that the government was making efforts to curb the menace of psychoactive substances in the country.

For Prof. Isidore Obot, Director, Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA), the use and abuse of psychoactive substances are largely on the increase in the country.

Obot explained that in addressing the policies on drug abuse, the role of drug law enforcement could not be overlooked, while the need to consider the problem of drug abuses as a big issue must be considered.

He said that alcohol remained a big and major problem in the country, as 50 per cent of the populace were addicted to alcohol consumption, a situation he described as very dangerous to health.

“We have neglected the other side of drug problems. It is not all about the variability or trafficking as it used to be, but now the drugs that have been trafficked are being abused in the country.

“Drug use is a health problem and response to this problem should be driven by health and social welfare concerns, with total recognition of human rights of drug users.

“Treatment for drug use disorder should be available as at when needed, and the best available evidence of effectiveness should guide the formulation and implementation of interventions.

“We will not succeed in addressing the growing problem of drug use in our communities if we continue to rely on untested strategies that just seem to make sense or feel good.

“And it will be more difficult to succeed, if we continue to neglect hard choices that hold promise for reducing drug use and the harm associated with it,’’ he said.

Obot stressed that regular research and national survey on illicit substance were part of the major ways to solving and checkmating drug use in the country.

The Director, Drug Demand Reduction, ECOWAS, Dr Sintiki Ugbe, said there was high magnitude of trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances.

Ugbe added that cocaine trafficking remained a significant concern with evolving modes of transportation through air and seaports, while cannabis was widely cultivated and consumed in the region.

Our correspondent reports that Nigeria has adopted and endorsed the ECOWAS political declaration and regional action plan to combat illicit drug trafficking, organised crime and drug abuse.