By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA— FEDERAL Government has said an estimated 14.3 million adults in Nigeria used hard drugs for non-medical purposes within the past one year.
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja at the unveiling of the report of the first National Survey on Drug Use and Health to be conducted in Nigeria.
He said some of the findings of the survey are striking and alarming; hence, call for concerted efforts to mitigate the negative consequences of the increasing use of psychoactive substances on the health and security of the nation.
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According to him, data collected from 38,850 respondents in the household and 9,344 high risk drug users nationwide suggests that the prevalence of past year’s drug use in Nigeria is more than twice the global average of 5.6 per cent.
He said: “In Nigeria, one in seven persons aged 15 – 64 years had used a drug other than tobacco and alcohol in the past year. The past year’s prevalence of any drug use is estimated at 14.4 per cent, corresponding to 14.3 million people who had used a psychoactive substance for non-medical purpose.
“Cannabis is the most commonly used drug. An estimated 10.6 million people had used cannabis in the past year. The average age of initiation of cannabis use among the general population is 19 years.
“There is also a considerable level of non-medical use of prescription opioids such as tramadol and cough syrup containing codeine and dextromethorphan.”
Ehanire further said people who inject drugs, PWIDs, also constituted a sizeable proportion of high risk drug users, stressing that pharmaceutical opioids, followed by cocaine and heroin were the commonly injected drugs.
While noting that among every four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman, he added that one in five persons who had used a hard drug in the past year suffered from drug user disorders.