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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Drug abuse poses threat to mental health, national security, says NAFDAC DG

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The future of Nigeria depends largely on the nature and quality of youth that the country produces today, the Director General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Moji Adeyeye has said.

Adeyeye noted that a child that grows up under frustrating conditions will develop psychological problems with time and possibly become dangerous as an adult.

Speaking at the maiden Annual National Security Summit in Abuja with the theme “Covid-19, Drug Abuse, Mental Health: Implications to National Security”, she noted with dismay that conditions related to Covid-19 are known to have increased economic deprivation and feelings of social isolation which are factors that can contribute to increased drug use.

Adeyeye who was represented by NAFDAC’s Director of Narcotics and Controlled Substances, Musa Umar, said the topic, “Drug Abuse, Mental Health: Implications to National Security” was apt and in line with current national and international realities.

Quoting the President of the World Bank (1983), McNamara,

In a statement by NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, on Sunday in Abuja, Adeyeye avers that any society that seeks to achieve adequate military security against the background of acute food shortages, population explosion, low level of productivity and per capita-income, high rate of illiteracy, a fragile infrastructure/technological development, inadequate and insufficient public utilities, and chronic unemployment, has a false sense of security.

According to her, Drug abuse is both a health and a social problem, stressing that tackling the menace requires a balanced approach touching on all aspects related to the complex relationship between lack of opportunities, drug abuse, mental health, and national security.

‘’Security, today, has gone beyond the notion of the physical safety and survival of a state from internal or external threats to include all the interlocking realms of economic self-reliance, social cohesion, and political stability. It borders on how people would live a long and healthy life,’’ she said.

‘’Human development is about enlarging people’s choices to live a long and healthy life, to acquire knowledge and to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living (UNDP, 1990:10). In the absence of these essential choices many other opportunities remain inaccessible on a sustainable basis.’’

The NAFDAC boss pointed out that human development has always followed security of lives and property, which was the reason why those who drafted te nation’s constitution made security the number one responsibility the State must discharge towards its citizens.

She added that lack of opportunities, inequality, poverty, and mental health conditions are known factors that push people into drug use, stressing that the Illicit drug economies in poor and marginalised urban neighbourhoods is often driven by poverty.

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Adeyeye stated that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development affirms explicitly that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.

Although the drug problem does not feature directly in the Goals and targets, she noted that drug abuse very clearly overlaps with target 3.5 – Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol. ‘’The goal is good health and well-being’’.

She further noted with dismay that the consequences of poverty can be very severe, especially as the poor have little access to healthcare, adding that the global picture of drug use is compounded by the fact that many people who use drugs, whether occasionally or regularly, tend to be polydrug users (using more than one substance concurrently or sequentially, usually with the intention of enhancing or countering the effects of another drug).

The NAFDAC DG explained that the non-medical use of prescription drugs (e.g., opioids and benzodiazepines) and the use of amphetamines or new psychoactive substances in lieu of or in combination with drugs such as cocaine or heroin blurs the distinction between users of a particular substance and presents a picture of interlinked epidemics of drug use and related health consequences.

According to the 2018 Drug Use in Nigeria Survey, Prof Adeyeye disclosed that about 14.4% or 14.3 million people aged between 15 and 64 years used drugs in Nigeria compared to a 2016 global annual prevalence of any drug use of 5.6% among adult population.

According to her, the Survey also revealed that the highest-level drug was among those aged between 25 and 39 years, which is matter of great concern, being the main productive age range in the youthful population of Nigeria.

‘’The youths have a lot of energy and are being easily manipulated and their lives wasted along religious and ethnic lines by misguided clerics and mischievous individuals’’, she warned.

The NAFDAC boss disclosed that Cannabis is the most used drug, followed by opioids -which include tramadol and codeine), stressing that 25% of drug users are female (approximately 3.4m) while 20% of drug users are dependent (approximately 2.9m).

‘’The 2018 January also revealed that, about 376,000 (0.4 per cent of the population aged 15 – 64) were estimated to be high-risk drug users – defined as people who had used opioids, crack/cocaine or amphetamines in the past 12 months and had used those drugs on at least 5 occasions in the past thirty days.

Among the high-risk drug users 21 per cent, or an estimated 80,000 users, are people who inject drugs (PWID). The majority (78 percent) were men, but 1 out of 5 people who inject drugs are women.’’ , she laments.

Adeyeye said that pople who inject drugs are among the most marginalized and disadvantaged drug users, noting that they experience poor health outcomes with a greater chance of premature death, high rates of potentially life-threatening infectious diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis, and an increased risk of both fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses.

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