June 26 of every year is the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, a day set aside to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse.
This year’s theme, “Share Facts on Drugs. Save Lives,” underscores the importance of authentic information in the overall thrust against controlled substances.
Sadly, it is coming at a time when the rate of drug abuse among Nigerian youths is rising astronomically with triggered or accelerated trafficking dynamics across the global drug market after disruption by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) titled: “UNODC World Drug Report 2021: Pandemic Effects Ramp Up Drug Risks, As Youth Underestimate Cannabis Dangers”, said Nigeria will grapple with approximately 20 million drug users by 2030, noting the figures would further deepen public health and security challenges.
UNODC said there are 11 million cannabis users in Nigeria, a third of whom seem to be regular users with a need for drug counselling, describing it as a worrisome trend.
“Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use, and the findings of UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report highlight the need to close the gap between perception and reality to educate young people and safeguard public health,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly.
Recently, chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, said one in every seven Nigerians is addicted to drugs, calling for integrity drug tests for students and politicians, especially those contesting for public offices.
In a chat with me the National Youth Council Of Nigeria (NYCN) president, Solomon Adodo, says use of drugs had become prevalent among youths in the country because of peer pressure. He advised Nigerians, especially youths in the country to shun drug abuse, illicit trafficking and other ill social vices.
The founder, Adorable Foundation International (AFI) Princess Ada Okeke Amam while speaking during a programme to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse titled: “A Societal Awareness Campaign Against Drug Abuse” during the weekend, described drug abuse as one of the biggest menaces in the 21st century.
Amam called for more public enlightenment on effects of hard drug abuse in the society and gave many instances of how some intelligent teenagers and young adults have wasted their lives with drug substances.
“Nigeria had hitherto been adjudged to be just a drug transit nation, but emerging statistics have shown that the country is now a drug user nation,” she said.
A JSS 2 student, Benjamin Atuluku, stressed the need for more education on drug abuse, stating that media should be used to spread campaigns against drug abuse and called for the rehabilitation of addicts.