By Our Reporter
began almost five years ago to stamp out drug abuse, especially among youths and society in general, by Oluwafemi Silas , is now impressively waxing stronger.
The challenges, though daunting, must be frontally tackled, the non-governmental organization, NGO, founder, Oluwafemi Silas,
Executive Director, Member, International Society of Substance Use Professionals, said, urging that “the society must not be allowed to drown in such self-destructive abuses.“
On what inspired him to set up the NGO, he said
“When I was a teenager I had an experience in the government quarters I was staying with my parents. A young man who took marijuana ran into the bush beside our residential building. It took a lot of effort to save his life. That got me thinking about the effects of drugs on the human body. That experience inspired me to start thinking about what I can do to help people from abusing drugs.
Stamp Out Drug Abuse Initiative is five years old! The non -governmental organization which was founded on the 25th of April 2018 has the vision of educating, informing, and enlightening the youth and the general public on the infallible truths about drugs.
The organization also
assists drug addicts secure rehabilitation centers where they can be treated and recover.
In the last four and a half years, we have succeeded in achieving some of our visions by organizing seminars, campaigns, workshops, and training in schools, communities, youth organizations, churches, mosques, and private and public organizations, among others.
As we celebrate our anniversary, we want to draw the attention of the government, families, school authorities, communities, religious bodies, and other stakeholders to the increasing number of young people indulging in the abuse and misuse of drugs.
According to a survey on drug use in Nigeria conducted in 2018 by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, and the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse, CRISA, with the support of UNODC and EU, about 14.3 million Nigerians between the ages of 15-64 used psychoactive substance for non-medical purposes. Furthermore, it was discovered that one in every four drug users in Nigeria is a woman, and one in five persons who use hard substances in Nigeria is facing certain drug use disorders.
Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain.
Drug abuse also means a pattern of repeated drug or alcohol use that often interferes with health, work, and social relationships. The brain is weird to make you want to repeat experiences that make you feel good, so you are motivated to do them again and again.
Drugs may be addictive, targeting your brain’s reward system. They flood your brain with a chemical called DOPAMINE. This triggers a feeling of intense pleasure so you keep taking the drug to chase high.
We strongly believe that all stakeholders involved in the fight against drug abuse and misuse must come together to tackle this monster by taking pragmatic steps to prevent it.
In view of the above, we believe the following practical steps will go a long way in addressing drug abuse in Nigeria.
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
• Government should sanitize the drug distribution system in the nation and restrict access to dangerous drugs
• Restrict access to over-the-counter drugs that may lead to abuse
• Continue to make public awareness campaigns via print, social and electronic media through relevant government agencies both at the federal, state, and local governments levels.
Review the drug laws and ensure that everybody (specialists, individuals, cultivators, and carriers) involved in drug-related offenses is served with stiff penalties.
• Establish more rehabilitation centers and employ capable staff to assist people with addiction in rehabilitation centers.
• Stimulate the economy so as to create employment opportunities, especially for teenagers and youths in the country who are more vulnerable.
• Provide educational opportunities to the youths so as to make them productive rather than idle.
• Empower the relevant agencies such as NDLEA, NAFDAC, and the like by funding them adequately and allowing them to discharge their duties professionally.
• Expand, equip, and upgrade the facilities and institutions in charge of treating people with a drug use disorder.
THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY
Parents must educate their children about drug abuse because charity begins at home.
Give zero tolerance for drug and alcohol use in and outside the house.
Lead by example
Expose their children to programs, videos, and publications that preach against drug abuse.
Avoid exposing their kids to programs, videos, and publications that promote drug abuse, misuse, and addiction.
Parents should know the friends of their children and their family background, as this will help to prevent them from keeping bad company.
Play your role as a parent. Do not abdicate your responsibilities in the home for the school, church, or mosque. They are only there to play complementary roles.
Engage your children – Encourage your children to participate in activities within the scope of their interests, talent, and knowledge. This will keep them busy and reduce idleness and associated consequences.
THE COMMUNITY AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS
The community and religious groups have a major role to play in preventing drug abuse because they are closer to the populace and they also have a direct influence on the people under them. They should educate and enlighten their members and followers about the dangers of drug abuse, misuse, and addiction for both society and individuals.
They can as well set up a team of professionals among their members to counsel people suspected to be practicing drug abuse. In addition, they should also strengthen their counseling units in churches and mosques by involving professionals among them to assist in drug education and related programs that can benefit their members.
Celebrities are of great influence in the life of most youths, in fact, they are considered role models in society. Celebrities such as musicians, footballers, actors and actresses, and entertainers, among others.
They can organize, participate and sponsor campaigns that are against the use of hard drugs. They should also be exemplary leaders, and avoid indulging in anything that has to do with the distribution, trading, or use of hard substances so that their audiences can easily grasp their messages and shun drug abuse.
Most community development associations have youth arms and some youth groups exist on their own.
These groups should regularly organize programs that educate and enlighten them on drug abuse and its ugly sides.
They can invite professionals in the field of drug education to help deliver lectures on the subject matter so that their members may have a full understanding of it and shun it totally.
Individuals can help minimize drug abuse by observing the following:
• Read and understand the adverse effects of using hard drugs.
• Associate with the right persons
• Learn to handle life’s pressure rather than resorting to hard substances
• Don’t give in to peer pressure
• Seek professional help that can help you overcome addiction to hard drugs
• Distract yourself from taking drugs
- In conclusion, tackling the menace of drug abuse has to be a joint task of you and me – individuals, government, families, schools, civil society, religious organizations, media, communities, and business entities.