Despite measures and restrictions on drug abuse, the United Nations estimates more than fourteen per cent of Nigerians are drug users with about 3 million living with drug use disorder.
The Country Representative, United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime UNODC, Mr Oliver Stolpe stated this in an exclusive interview with Zainab Khalil of Radio Nigeria, in Abuja.
UNODC and UNICEF sponsored by the EU had conducted the first-ever large scale nation-wide survey to examine the extent and patterns of drug use in Nigeria and some of the findings were striking and alarming, Mr Stolpe said.
While noting the considerable work done to mitigate the challenges that drug use poses to Nigerians, he suggested the need to increase access and availability of treatment and counselling facilities across the country adding that DrugHelpNet is more unique and noble.
“One of the ways forward is the creation of DrugHelpNet in Nigeria. It provides over the phone assistance to drug users. Many regards as more effective and accessible than the necessary drug in centres and it has shown its effectiveness in only two months of its operation and hardly any promotion, it had already more than two thousand users.”
According to Mr Oliver Stolpe, the UNODC in collaboration with the ministry of education introduced a school-based drug use prevention programme (Unplugged), targeted at secondary school pupil, to impact critical life skills that help children to make a smart decision and build emotional intelligence to withstand peer pressure.
“When it comes to drugs use we have done ten models intervention as part of the normal schools’ curriculum normally in social studies and children have been educated about drugs and been given life skills on how to address situations where they might be confronted to drug use, and the programme has a very positive result in schools where it has been rolled out not only in terms of drug use but also in terms of increase in academics performance.”
Mr Oliver who emphasized on the need to be abreast with research and studies on addressing drug abuse and stigmatization cautioned that drug use should not be seen as an inflicted moral failure but a health condition.
He added that the organisation was looking at the options of using sports as another way of engaging people, especially children that are not necessarily in the schooling system, as a way of keeping them engaged and productive.