The rate of drug abuse among Nigerian youths is alarming. It is heading towards a national emergency, which should be considered and treated appropriately with the kind of attention it deserves in our modern society.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in the last 24 years, cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent.
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This is in spite of the evidence that the use of cannabis is associated with a variety of health issues and other harms, especially among regular long-term users.
Meanwhile, a worrisome development which should not be treated with levity is the fact that there are about 11 million cannabis users in Nigeria, a third of whom seemed to be regular users with a need for drug counselling.
Similarly, the world drug report further noted that: “Between 2010 and 2019, the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent, owing to global population growth. Based on demographic changes alone, current projections suggest an 11 per cent rise in the number of people who use drugs globally by 2030 – and a marked increase of 40 per cent in Africa, due to its rapidly growing and young population. In Nigeria, this would signify that the country will have to grapple with approximately 20 million drug users by 2030, further deepening the public health and public security challenge.”
It would be recalled that the Chairman of the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, said Nigeria was not only the highest user of cannabis worldwide, but that revelations from kidnapped victims had corroborated the facts that illicit substances were enablers of insecurity currently plaguing the country.
The consequences of drug abuse can never be overemphasised as it has birthed a lot of problems not only in families but in the nation as well as the international community.
Experts assert that there are so many factors responsible for youths indulging into drug abuse around the world. These include but not limited to reasons such as; parental abuse, depression, peer pressure, peer group influence, the proliferation of quacks in the drug trade, early childhood and adult trauma, environmental circumstances among others.
Drug abuse in Nigeria is a serious problem and has contributed largely to the sorry state of our dear nation. And we can no longer continue to ignore the implication of such action as it poses a threat to our lives and that of the upcoming generations as well.
The government alone cannot eradicate this social menace. It is a joint task involving every individual, communities, families, schools, civil societies, religious organisations, the media, business entities and traditional leaders in order to halt the ugly trend.
Most of these drug abusers are jobless individuals roaming about the streets. Thus government should step up an effort to provide them with jobs, while others could be empowered with necessary skills and tools to start their own business so as to carter for themselves and their family.
Again, government should remember that stemming the tide of drug abuse is akin to solving the security challenges currently bedevilling the country. The time to take action is long overdue.
Kabir Fagge Ali is a student of Mass Communication, Skyline University Nigeria