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1 in 7 Nigerians use at least one psychoactive substance ― Buba Marwa

Laments prevalence of drug abuse by Nigerians.

By Kingsley Omonobi and Abfulwahab Isa – Abuja

Former Lagos Military Administrator and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drugs Abuse, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (rtd), has said that a new study on drug abuse and psychoactive substances consumption showed that one in seven persons in Nigeria between the ages of 15 and 64 years use at least one psychoactive substance as against global average of 1 in 20.

Marwa, psychoactive
Buba Marwa

He also said that one in five persons who use drugs in Nigeria suffer from substance use disorders, a figure higher than the global average of 1 in 11 persons.

General Marwa gave the fresh updates on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of the Nigerian Society of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Professionals (ISSUP Nigeria chapter).

Lamenting the prevalence of drug abuse among Nigeria’s active population, he said all logistics must be deployed to address the challenges of substance abuse in Nigeria.

Represented by former Director-General of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Otunba Olanrewaju Ipinmisho, Marwa said: “To say that the nation is in a crisis of substance abuse is an understatement. Substance abuse has become one of the biggest challenges the country had ever seen in recent times.

“Statistics shows that while the global prevalence of drug use is 5.6 per cent, in Nigeria it is 14.4 per cent (14.3 million people). One in seven persons in Nigeria between the ages of 15 and 64 years use at least one psychoactive substance as against the global average of 1 in 20.

“One in five persons who use drugs in Nigeria are suffering from substance use disorders. This is higher than the global average of 1 in 11 persons.

“Nigeria population is about three per cent of the world population but six per cent of the world population of cannabis users are in Nigeria. 14 per cent of the world population who misuses pharmaceutical uploads are in Nigeria, thereby making Nigeria one of the countries in the world with the highest population of people who misuses tramadol and codeine cough syrup”.

Marwa continued, “These are not figures we should be proud of as a nation. More worrisome, is the ingenuity and complex mixture associated with drug use where polydrug use is a norm among drug users.

“Another major concern is the age of drug initiation where primary school ages are already exposed to drug use. This has more long term implications in the development of substance use disorders because of the stage of their brain development.

“Unfortunately the high number of out of school and homeless children, the level of poverty and inequality among others have constituted greater risk to the problems of substance abuse in Nigeria.

“A situation where 14 million children are out of school is disturbing not only to the issue of drug control but to the social and economic development of the nation.

“To effectively address the drug challenges of substance abuse in our country therefore, educational opportunities must be provided to the less privileged to mitigate the risk factors. Similarly, effective parenting skills must be promoted while addressing the problems of poverty and inequality among other risk factors”, he noted.

He lauded the initiative of setting up (ISSUP Nigeria chapter) saying he was impressed with the credentials of major actors in the establishment of this association and the determination to use resources available in the association to build the capacity of members and practitioners in this field for evidence-based substance abuse prevention in Nigeria.

In his inaugural lecture titled “drug demand reduction: holistic and integrated approach for sustainable development”, guest Lecturer, Prof. Princewill Stanley, professor of Neuropsychiatry, University of Port-Harcourt, said Nigeria spends N422 billion a year in dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in 2016.

He noted that economic cost of drugs and substance abuse in Nigeria was enormous.

His words, “It has been estimated at N10. 3 billion. This constitutes about 20% of our annual budget in the last ten years.

“Unfortunately, in the last ten years the budgetary allocation to health has remained a single digit while the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) program has continued to wobble “, he said.

In his welcome address earlier, National President, ISSUP Nigeria Chapter Martin O. Agwogie, pledged his organization’s commitment to collaborate, build positive relationships with government, local and international organizations towards effective drug control in Nigeria.

He said the body, in addition, will Promote and support professional information sharing, evidence-based, high quality, ethical policy and practice in substance use prevention.

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