By Evelyn Usman
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA yesterday alerted governments and world leaders on the increasing rate of new substances, revealing that 796 of them had been discovered, apart from the conventional cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
Chairman of the anti-Narcotic agency, Col. Mohammad Abdallah (retd) who raised the alarm at the opening ceremony of the national training of trainers course on the Universal Prevention Curriculum, UPC on substance abuse in Nigeria, organized by Global Initiative on Substance Abuse, GISA , in Lagos, noted that countries were daily confronted with new substances of abuse that are not under international control but are potentially addictive.
Lamenting that incidence of substance abuse was assuming a dangerous epidemic and worrisome dimension in Nigeria, Abdallah, who was represented by the Dr Lawrence Opara, said the menace had created an unacceptable burden on individuals, families, communities and societies.
He said: “Apart from the conventional drugs namely cocaine, heroin, cannabis etc, the growing threats of new psychoactive substances demand urgent attention of governments and world leaders. According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Board’s (INCB) reports launched in March 2018, Member States had reported 796 new substances, a steady increase from the 739 substances reported the previous year. Countries are daily confronted with new substances of abuse that are not under international control but are potentially addictive.
“Also of importance is the emergence of clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratories in some countries including Nigeria, where between 2011 and 2018 , NDLEA discovered 15 of such laboratories in three states in Nigeria. This development is worrisome as high risk sexual practices linked with the use of stimulant drugs (e.g. amphetamine-type substances, cocaine and new psychoactive substances) among sub-groups of key populations is also indicated in the spread of HIV in addition to injective drug use”.
The nine-day training according to him, was designed to meet the current demand for a comprehensive training package in the field of drug use prevention, based on evidence-based principles, noting that the training could not have come at a better time than now, when there was a dearth of Substance Abuse Professionals in Nigeria.
In his remark, the National Project Officer, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNDOC, Dr. Akanidomo Ibanga, described the training of the trainers course as the beginning of hope for the prevention of abuse, saying “ when practitioners who are in the field are trained, they will then be commissioned to implement the programme and report back, as well as monitoring the effect of this programme .This means we are taking a step in the right direction at implementing evidence based prevention programme.
Earlier, the Founder, Executive Director, GISA, Dr. Martin Osayande Agwogie, explained that the training was aimed at building capacities of professionals to be able to train GISA practitioners in the field of substance use and prevention, who will thereafter take the campaign on substance prevention to the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.