Nigeria: UN laments 14.3% drug prevalence, advocates treatment of addicts

The United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has lamented that 14.3% of Nigerian citizens are involved in drug and substance abuse, while urging that those involved be treated and rehabilitated rather than sending them to prison. 

Project Officer UNODC, Dr. Akanidomo Ibanga made this known while addressing the Capacity Building Training for operatives of Kaduna Bureau of Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (KADBUSA) on Tuesday in Kaduna. 

He called for development of policies that will address the situation, noting that people with drug disorder that come in contact with criminal justice system, should be treated rather than sending to prison.

According to Dr. Ibanga, “14.3% of Nigerians have used drugs within the past years, that is 14.4 million people. Now, that is three times more than the global average. We have a serious drugs problem on our hands. The Nigerian situation is peculiar because it has the drugs problem, again it doesn’t have enough treatment facilities to handle the issues of people that have drugs disorder. This data is even 2018 data. From that time till date, the number of people using drugs have probably increased. 

“Projections from WHO and UNODC, is that there would be 40% increase in drug use by 2030 in Africa, and Nigeria being the most populous country in Africa, that means it will have most of the number. So, we are saying that, we are sitting on time bomb, because come 2030, we are talking about 20% prevalence, that is, one in every five people you meet on the street. There are certain things we can do to avert this. UNODC has evolved certain responses and developed certain models. 

“We are hoping that these models can be run by both national and state governments. There is also need for us to develop more policies that will address the situation. There is a need for us to look for alternatives to persuasion, so that that people with drug disorder that come in contact with criminal justice system, it is better to treat them than to send them to prison. So, there are several things that we have on ground that is evidence based. There is a need for us to adopt them and roll them out nationally.” 

The Director General KADBUSA, Joseph Ike, said the training, which is in alignment with Governor Uba Sani’s administration’s agenda emphasises human capital development and citizens’ engagement, it’s also important for diligently carrying out the important mandate of the Bureau.

“This collaborative initiative between KADBUSA, the Kaduna State Ministry of Health, and the UNODC underscores the commitment to address the pressing issue of substance abuse within the state. By enhancing the capabilities of KADBUSA’s operations staff, the program aims to make a tangible difference in the lives of those affected by drug abuse and addiction. This 2-Day Capacity Building Training is a significant step towards a healthier, more secured, and prosperous Kaduna state,” he said.

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