The Federal Government is set to strengthen and collaborate with relevant agencies to tackle drug and substance abuse in Nigeria.
Retired Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse, disclosed this on Thursday at the 4th Biennial National Symposium on “Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria’’ in Abuja.
Marwa said that government was coming up with a new coordinating mechanism like the national drug control commission ,which would go through legislation and help in the fight against drug abuse.
He added that the commission would come up with strategies for drug, while existing institutions would be strengthened and empowered.
”There will be mass advocacy across board, from families to religious leaders, and traditional leaders down to community levels and up to civil society organisations.
”New rehabilitation centres for treatment and after care will be available; these are some of the plans the Federal government is coming up with to tackle drug related issues,’’ ” he said.
Prof. Isidore Obot, Director, Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA), said that solution was near as government had started putting measures in place to tackle drug problems in Nigeria.
He said the conference was aimed at seeking effective ways of addressing the problems of drugs and drug abuse in the country.
Obot explained that in addressing the role of policies on drug abuse, the roll of drug law enforcement could not be overlooked, but the need to consider the problem of drug abuse as a big issue must be considered.
He said that recent findings from a national survey on drug use showed that the use of substances such as tramadol and codeine, was at near epidemic level in the country.
”According to the national survey , 4.6 million Nigerians aged 15-64 years are non-medical opioid users and 2.4 million abuse codeine-containing cough syrups.
”There is sufficient evidence that the use of licit and illicit substances has contributed in no small measure to the prevalence of acute and chronic health conditions and social problems like domestic violence, road traffic and workplace accidents, and criminal activities.
”Both substances are responsible for the majority of treatment demands recorded in local facilities, and one of them (alcohol) is causally associated with premature death, chronic disease, disability and more than 50 other disorders and outcomes,“ he said.
He said that there was a need to pay attention to the dangers inherent in the increasing use of amphetamine-type-stimulants, injecting drug use, lack of services for drug users and the gender disearities that exist in access to treatment.
Obot added that the number of people who used these substances was on the rise.
”In the midst of this changing scene we have not made much progress in drug policy reform as we continue to rely on untested and ineffective strategies and not giving due attention to treatment and rehabilitation.
”Treatment should be readily available to anyone in need and such treatment should be professional in nature and based on the best available evidence,“ he said.