At least 29.4 million Nigerians aged between 15 and 64 years abuse psychoactive substances and other dangerous drugs, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has said.
Speaking during a ceremony to mark this year’s United Nations international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking in Awka, the Anambra State Commandant of NDLEA, Mrs. Florence Ezeonye painted a gloomy picture of the situation when she said that one in every four drug user is a female.
She said: “The truth on ground indicates that our society needs to do more in the area of creating awareness of the damaging effects of drug abuse on human health.”
“The drug use and health survey of 2018 captured that 14.4% of the country’s drug use prevalence is almost three times the global average of 5.6%. “What is more disturbing is that the drug abuse cuts across all ages, gender, socio-economic status and regions.
“From the survey, 14.3million Nigerians aged 15-64 years use psychoactive substances such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and heroine, while 10.6 million abuse cannabis. Also, 4.6million others abuse pharmaceutical opioids such as codeine, tramadol, methamphetamine and morphine, among others.
“It is worrisome to know that drug use was common among those aged 25-39years, the age of initiation for heroin was 22 years, while the age of cannabis sativa was 19 years.
“Notably these age groups comprise of young people who are either in secondary or tertiary institutions, or are on the cusp of graduation.
“To simplify the report of the survey, young people are overwhelmingly the majority of drug abusers in Nigeria”.
She traced the problem to harsh conditions which had driven many into different vices leading to humanitarian and health crises.
She said further: “Most people when faced with difficult situations as we have now resort to drug use and abuse to apparently overcome their challenges without knowing the end result of their actions.
“There is, therefore, the need for stakeholders at all levels, (local, state and federal government, ministries, department and agencies, traditional and religious institutions, schools as well as citizens to deliberately get involved in this anti-drug campaign to rid our society of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
“The consequences of drug abuse are a reflection of what we see in our world today. Increase in violent crimes, such as kidnapping, armed banditry, rape, arson, child and human trafficking, terrorism among others”, he added.