By Kingsley Omonobi 

As part of efforts to treat the high number of persons suffering drug addiction in the country, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA will establish six standard rehabilitation centres, one in each geo-political zone of Nigeria.

This was disclosed in Abuja on Wednesday, 27th October 2021 by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) at the 5th Biennial National Symposium on Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria organised by the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA).

Speaking as Special Guest of Honour at the symposium, Gen. Marwa said“Substance use and abuse around the world including Nigeria is on the increase in terms of the proportion of the world’s population. Findings from the National Drug Use Survey (2018) conducted by the UNODC revealed that 14.4% or 14.3 million Nigerians aged 15 – 64 years had used a psychoactive substance in the past year for non-medical purposes, meaning that One in Seven persons has used some substances other than alcohol and tobacco. More worrisome is the finding that among every four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman. Above findings of the survey by UNODC give a troubling portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria and we can no longer live in denial that Nigeria has a thriving illicit drug culture.”

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He said as part of efforts to stem the tide, the Agency has proposed the construction of six standard rehabilitation centres across the six geo-political zones in the country beginning from next year. He said three of the centres would start next year as already proposed in the 2022 budget.

According to him, “There is no doubt that Substance use impacts negatively on the individual, family and the society in general. Substance abuse affects the physical, social and psychological levels of the user and family members. Evidence has shown that COVID-19 infections are higher or more common with people diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) hence addiction care must be reinforced in order to avoid complications of SUD and COVID-19   

“Reducing the demand for illicit drugs in the society depends to a large extent on the successful treatment of existing drug users. This fact accounts for the shift in global drug policy viz the treatment of drug problems as a public health issue. Consequently, we have operationalised our Standard Practice and Policy Guidelines, a treatment and rehabilitation document developed in conjunction with UNODC. The document, like a field manual, provides synergy among our counsellors and further boosts our capability at treatment and rehabilitation.”

Other dignitaries who spoke at the event include Hon. Onofiok Luke, Chairman House of Reps Committee on Judiciary; Prof Isidore Obot, Executive Director, CRISA; Representatives of EU, UNODC and Prof. Ibrahim Abdu Wakawa who delivered the keynote address among others.

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