As the world commemorates the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has projected that drug use prevalence is expected to rise by 40 percent by 2030.
He said the trend would be more disturbing for Nigeria being one of the African countries with a high population.
His views came at the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, with the theme: “Addressing Drugs Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises”, marked at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Monday.
Beyond this, use of drugs in Nigeria is believed to be a major force heightening conflict and instability, as well as undermining domestic law enforcement and border controls, which makes smuggling of drugs much easier.
It is also insinuated that the high prevalence of drugs amongst young people who are usually the most vulnerable to drug use, fuels armed banditry with widespread use of drugs by these terrorists.
Osinbajo, who linked current inability of the federal government to effectively tackle terrorism to high prevalence of drugs use, added that “ studies have shown that after controlling for armed groups and individual level variables, drug intake and alcohol consumption, sharply increase the violent actions perpetrated during conflicts.
The UNODC report had indicated that drug use was responsible for the death of almost half a million people in 2019, while drug use disorders resulted in the loss of 18 million others
The 2018 National Drug use survey also revealed that in Nigeria at the time that there were about 14.3 million drug users, of which close to 3 million suffer from drug use disorder.
This figure represents a 14.4% prevalence rate in Nigeria, which is about three times the global average prevalence rate of 5%. The UNODC also in its 2021 World Drug Report projects that by 2030 the number of people using drugs around the world will rise by 11%.
According to Osinbajo, “40% in Africa alone causes a disturbing projection because as the country with the largest population in Africa, this implies that Nigeria’s drug abuse prevalence will rise substantially especially considering the proportions that we are leaders in terms of population.
“And the past 17 months, the NDLEA, we are told has recorded over 17,647 arrests of offenders including 10 drug barons and I’m sure that that number increases everyday if you’re following the news, with over 2369, convicted persons and over 150,000 kilograms of drugs that have been seized within the same period. So the statistics show that 5.5% of the population aged between 15 and 64 years used drugs at least once since 2018. This is precisely the age bracket that we cannot afford to lose to drugs.”
The ripple effect of the revelations, he said “ is a triple jeopardy supplied by displaced persons, those in IDP camps and refugee camps. There is the trauma and stress of displacement. Its immediate consequences of course are unemployment, coping with new cultures, loss of self esteem, and hope. And this puts displaced persons at greater risk of substance abuse.”
He noted that for women and girls in particular, the situation is more harrowing, as they are exposed to severe traumatic situations, due to violence, and sometimes sexual exploitation, especially in camps, which together with other stressful factors of displacement can further heighten drug use.
“These problems are all worsened by the expected lack of access to treatment and therapies for drug abuse in refugee or IDP camps,” he noted.
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