Marwa raises alarm over women involvement in drugs, damage to family values
The chairman/chief executive officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has raised alarm over findings that women are neck deep in substance abuse considering the ripple effect on the family value, society.
The NDLEA boss spoke at the 5th Biennial national symposium on Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria organised by the Center for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA) at Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja
He said Findings from the National Drug Use Survey (2018) conducted by the UNODC painted a very dangerous picture on the family value system
He said more worrisome is the finding that among every four (4) drug users in Nigeria one (1) is a woman.
“This statistic is dangerous when you say one in every four is a woman because first of all she can raise 10 or more users
“This underscores the important role of women, so if that woman is taking cocaine and the children are watching what will happen? That bad example will already set them on the part of drug abuse so when we say 1 in 4 it is a very dangerous statistics.”
He indicated that findings from the National Drug Use Survey (2018) conducted by the UNODC also revealed that 14.4% or 14.3 million Nigerians aged 15 – 64 years had used a psychoactive substance in the past year for non-medical purposes.
‘Meaning that One in Seven persons has used some substances other than alcohol and tobacco.
“Above findings of the survey by UNODC gave a troubling portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria and we can no longer live in denial that Nigeria has a thriving illicit drug culture.”
He said there is no doubt that Substance use impacts negatively on the individual, family and the society in general.
“Substance abuse affects the physical, social and psychological levels of the user and family members.
Hence he said Substance use and abuse around the world including Nigeria is on the increase in terms of the proportion of the world’s population.
“The World including Nigeria is still grappling with the 2019 outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic which has brought major challenges to health care systems and public health policies globally as it requires novel treatment and prevention strategies.
He pointed out that evidence has shown that COVID 19 infections are higher or more common with people diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders (SUD).
Hence addiction care must be reinforced in order to avoid complications of SUD and COVID-19
“Reducing the demand for illicit drugs in the society depends to a large extent on the successful treatment of existing drug users.” According to him this fact accounts for the shift in global drug policy viz the treatment of drug problems as a public health issue.
“Consequently, we have operationalised our Standard Practice and Policy Guidelines, a treatment and rehabilitation document developed in conjunction with UNODC.
“The document, like a field manual, provides synergy among our counsellors and further boosts our capability at treatment and rehabilitation.
He commended CRISA, for the Organization’s commitment and contribution in the prevention of substance use through science and research, prevention, treatment and training of professionals.
“CRISA has over the years, created a platform for public discussion on substance and alcohol abuse and this year’s International Conference could not have come at a better time than now.
“This year’s theme “Substance Use: Addictive Behaviours and COVID 19 is apt and timely due to the increasing prevalence of substance use in our society coupled with the challenges posed by COVID 19.”
He expressed the hope that deliberations at the conference will proffer the way forward to rid our Nation of the drug menace.
“I therefore, enjoin all critical stakeholders and individuals to join this war against this growing threat of substance use in our nation as the NDLEA cannot do it all alone. “Time has therefore come for all hands to be on deck. Together we can do it.”
Chairman House Committee on Judiciary Hon. Onofiok Akpan Luke, said the immediate predictable response as it were, should be punishment for drug abuse but he said such response has not been effective these past decades.
“Research and very delicate studies have yielded interesting results, indicating that most drug users who were incarcerated, did not return from supposed correctional facilities better than they went in, whereas those who were committed to treatment facilities turned out with more positive outcomes; most were likely to kick the habit.
“This has strengthened the conclusion that treatment provides the best alternative for minimizing and eventually stopping the drug abuse and criminal activity cycle.
“The above situation should impel government and policy makers to make available funding to establish treatment facilities and to support and expand existing ones like the Drop-in-centres, which were earlier initiated and supported by the European Union/United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (EU/UNODC).
The executive director of the center Professor Isidor Obot said the 2021 symposium is the fifth in a series of biennial events that was launched in 2013 in Uyo.
“The national symposium is different from the international conference series that began in Jos in 1991 and also runs every two years. One focuses on relevant issues to drug policy in our country and the other attracts participants from across the world to a scientific forum on Drugs, Alcohol and Addictive Behaviours in Africa.”
He said the theme of the 2021 symposium is Substance Use, Addictive Behaviours and COVID-19.
“It is not surprising that we decided to focus attention on the link between psychoactive substance use and a pandemic that has wreaked havoc and continues to inflict pain across the world, including in our country.
“The use of illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin, and licit substances like alcohol is asscciated with COVID-19 in several ways.
“In countries where data are available we have seen that the stress, anxiety and depression brought about by COVID have led to an increase in the abuse of stimulants, opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines.
“During the pandemic we have seen a spike in opioid overdose and related mortality; harmful use of alcohoi (in terms of frequency, quantity and type) has been reported in several countries; and people with substance use disorders are more likely than others to develop COVID-19 and experience worse outcomes.
He said the pandemic has also had a clear impact on drug supply.
“Because of disruptions in availability, drug users have resorted to high-risk behaviours to acquire drugs or use substances they are not familiar with, which have resulted in overdose deaths in some countries.
“Services for people with drug use disorders have been affected by the pandemic”
He said they have scheduled almost 90 papers for presentation at the symposium on topics like epidemiology of drug use in Nigeria, treatment and prevention, harm reduction, drup policy, behavioural addictions, drug s and mental health and COVID-19 in Nigeria.
He said they use the event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of CRISA even though they are 31 this year.
According to him COVID-19 prevented the celebration last year