By Abiemwense Moru, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
The trend of worsening drug abuse among adolescents in Nigeria has become a major problem for society.
A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicated an alarming rate of drug abuse, especially among children in schools.
The report says Nigeria has one of the highest drug prevalence in West Africa with young people aged 15 and under as the culprits.
The UNODC report explained that Nigeria’s figures were “nearly three times the global prevalence of use of 5.5 percent” with the implication being that drug abuse is nearing epidemic proportions.
Indeed, drug use has continued to have devastating effects on Nigerian society.
Recently, a young girl accused of killing a popular actor allegedly blamed the drug she had taken for her action.
Many young people arrested for various criminal activities have always blamed their actions on drugs, according to Hakeem Odumosu, Lagos State Police Commissioner.
Odumosu also said that young people caught engaging in occult activities in schools have always identified drug use as the driving force behind this antisocial behavior.
The damage to society caused by underage drug use is rife and analysts have continued to wonder where Nigerian society has missed it.
Typically, many analysts attribute the threat to poor parenting. They say parents don’t seem to care much about children, and barely check their company to eliminate bad friends who could breed a negative influence.
Psychologist Amina Adamu believes the trend could not have turned out so badly if parents gave more time to the positive education of their children.
“It has been discovered that parents no longer spend the time constantly discussing with their children to educate them about the dangers of drug addiction.
“The houses are known to be the first schools for growing children. This is where knowledge is imparted to young minds and where life lessons are taught to them.
“Fundamental societal values are learned at home. If a child lacks such morals at home, society is ready to introduce vices into his young head, especially if he meets the wrong friends.
“It is therefore important that parents continue to have regular discussions with their children; they must preach love to them and let them feel loved.
“Wise parents should befriend their children and help them draw the line between right and wrong, and explain why they should choose the right path by letting them know the consequences of taking the wrong path.
“Parents of teenagers need to talk to them when they enter secondary schools and higher education institutions. Now is a good time to let them know about the dangers of drug use. Prepare your child for a time when medication may be available so that he can make the right decision by saying outright no, ”she said.
An NGO, Save Our Heritage Initiative (SOHI), also challenged parents to rise to the challenge of tackling and reducing drug addiction and drug addiction among adolescents nationwide.
Ms. May Ikokwu, Executive Director of the Abuja-based NGO, identified parents as essential in tackling the increase in drug addiction among different age groups, especially adolescents.
She explained that young people, who constantly abuse substances, often have problems.
She listed the issues to include school difficulties, health issues including mental health, poor peer relations, and involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Others include lower grades, truancy from school and other activities, and increased potential for dropping out, she added.
The SOHI boss, who spoke out against the alarming wave of adolescent drug addiction, warned of the dire consequences for family members, the community and society as a whole.
“A drug addict in the family is likely to regularly and indiscriminately rob mother, father and siblings, neighbors and family friends, thus constituting an embarrassment and shame on the family,” he said. she pointed out.
Ikokwu, however, urged parents to build trust between themselves and their children, which was essential in reducing drug abuse.
She argued that teens with great relationships with their parents were almost twice as likely to avoid friends who used drugs.
“Have open and honest conversations. Talking to teens can be difficult, especially when they seemingly don’t want anything to do with their parents or are too wrapped up in their social media feeds. But we have to do it, ”she said.
Ikokwu added that drug abuse was able to lead to low levels of commitment to education and higher truancy rates among adolescents.
“The cognitive and behavioral problems experienced by young alcoholics and drug addicts can negatively interfere with academics,” she said.
She said drug abuse could trigger an increased risk of teenage suicide and homicide, putting the family at risk.
The Center for Ethical Rebirth among Nigerian Youth (CERANY), an NGO, also called on religious and community leaders to step up the campaign against drug abuse that is ravaging many communities in the country.
The association’s president, Mr. Chuks Akamadu, who spoke on the issue, said parents and siblings of drug addicts can no longer deal with it on their own.
“Separate organizations outside of families, such as community and religious leaders, should lead the campaign. Everyone must get involved in the fight to reduce the scourge in society.
“Traditional rulers should use their influence; youth organizations, women and market associations all need to be active. We must all unite our efforts to save our youth which is our future and our hope. “
The president of the NGO said that if religious leaders continued to condemn the act, which has become common among young people, it would go a long way in eliminating the scourge.
He also called on professional bodies to join the campaign against drug addiction, saying everyone must play a role in ending the scourge.
“Drug abuse destroys the individual; it destroys the family and, on a larger scale, compromises national security.
“The insecurity that has become pervasive in the country today can be attributed to drug abuse,” he said.
He challenged all Nigerians to stand up against the threat, adding that drug addiction is now a national emergency that should bother everyone.
Akamadu challenged the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other counter-threat agencies to manage the task diligently.
Another NGO, Southern Nigeria Peoples Mandate, based in Enugu, also urged Nigerians to support all government agencies fighting drug addiction.
Its president, Mr. Augustine Chukwudum, expressed his concern about the increasing use of hard drugs among young people.
Chukwudum noted: “It seems that the smoking of Indian hemp among young people is taking on a frightening dimension in the country.
“Before now, people who smoked Indian hemp did so in isolated places and disguised themselves well in public so as not to indulge in drug addiction.
“But today, with the growing number of young subscribers to Indian hemp and smoking, it is happening anytime, anywhere.
“Drug addicts don’t care what their next door neighbors say or feel about it. “
According to him, the increased involvement of young people in various forms of violence can be attributed to the reckless and pervasive use of these weeds and other psychoactive substances.
“Nigerians shouldn’t just condemn or view users with disdain; we must actively join in seizing any opportunity to talk to young people about its negative effects.
“The current fight against drug addiction, hard drugs and psychoactive substances should never be left to public authorities or NGOs alone.
“Indian hemp and other psychoactive weeds are sold on our streets and young people take these hard drugs in the open, even in the streets and neighborhoods.
“This has resulted in an intensification of violence of all kinds in our residential areas and neighborhoods. It also caused delinquent or cult-related behaviors all around us, ”he said.
As the nation battles the scourge, analysts have suggested recruiting psychologists and psychiatric health professionals in government and public institutions to expand avenues where young people can get help and be reformed from the clutches. consumption of psychoactive substances.
They say the measure has become necessary to save young people from further destruction by drugs and other illicit substances. (NAN characteristics)
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