Youths are the most venerable and deeply involved group in the social menace of drug abuse with drug abuse among the youths dominating discussions in the mainstream media recently. A British Broadcasting Corporation Africa (BBC Africa) report published on the 30th of April, 2018 referred to codeine addiction as a deadly, largely hidden epidemic that is sweeping across Nigeria. Codeine is a medicine that has become a street drug and according to the BBC Africa report from an undercover investigation by its correspondents, 3 million bottles are consumed every day. Despite vast quantities being seized and destroyed every year, the scourge is still spreading rapidly, which makes, a community based prevention approach necessary.
Substance Abuse Prevention
Over 6 million bottles of codeine are sold on a daily basis in the North-West part of the country. A National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) report also showed that over 11% of people in the North-West zone use drugs. Drug addiction is on the rise, young people are beginning to make use of cough syrups to get high on a daily basis. Studies have revealed that most drug addicts started smoking from a young age and as they advance in age, they would seek new thrills and highs leading them to hard drugs. Reasons for use range from having a good time, to curiosity to mood altering etc. The menace of substance abuse in Nigeria has reached a frightening proportion and it has pervaded every fibre in the society. It is common knowledge that more Nigerian youths are becoming drug addicts, while Nigeria is gradually graduating from a drug consuming nation to a drug producing one. In other to support government’s efforts, more community based approach with focus on youths is required to combat this menace.
What is the Community’s Role in Curbing this Menace?
The community approach will allow the problem of substance abuse to be approached from the root with larger numbers of community members approaching the problem through education, awareness and prevention. Sensitizing Local communities will create the necessary awareness to tackle this problem with youths within the community, particularly as a community with large numbers of drugs and alcohol abusers is likely to have a low socio economic status, еhe community as a group can:
- Create awareness in the community on the dangers of drug abuse.
- Provide recreational activities.
- Provide job opportunities.
- Educate through teachings, seminars, workshops, symposium and conferences.
- Embark on mass media activities against substance abuse.
- Provide homes and vocations.
- Provide counseling centers.
- These are to mention just a few of positive actionable areas for the community that can prevent substance abuse and support recovery.
It is a popularly held belief that the youths of any nation are the leaders of tomorrow. They are the vehicles through which positive changes can be realized. This is why it is imperative to invest in the future development of our youths. Government, Parents, and Guardians must devote a lot of time and resources in order to create a positive and enabling environment for young people to flourish. They must not be neglected in order to prevent them from seeking solace in the use of substances. For the victims that are already addicted to substance use, communities must figure out how to eliminate stigma and create treatment options that will assist them in confronting and overcoming their addiction. Charity begins at home. Parents, Guardians and Caregivers must educate their children on the ills of drug abuse and must take adequate steps to connect and communicate with their wards while being present in their lives, showing love, understanding and support always; “for if you do not talk to your ward, someone else will!”