The issue of drug abuse among Nigerian youths has reached alarming levels, posing a significant threat to public health and security. The prevalence of hard drug usage, including substances like Syrup, tramadol, Diazepam, cocaine, and Shisha mix, among others, has risen to over 11% of the youth population in Nigeria. This essay will examine the concerning state of drug abuse in Nigeria, the potential consequences, and the measures that can be taken to address this growing problem.
Current Scenario and Statistics
According to the 2021 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), an estimated 275 million people worldwide used drugs in the previous year. Among them, over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders. In Nigeria, the 2018 National Drug Use Survey revealed that approximately 14.3 million individuals were drug users, with nearly three million of them experiencing drug use disorders.
The Impact of Cannabis Use
The World Drug Report highlights the worrying trend of increasing cannabis potency by up to four times in some regions over the past 24 years. Paradoxically, the perception of cannabis as harmful has declined among adolescents by as much as 40%. This is concerning as cannabis use has been linked to various health and social issues, particularly among regular, long-term users. In Nigeria alone, there are approximately 11 million cannabis users, with a significant proportion requiring drug counseling due to regular usage.
Projected Future Challenges
The global drug use scenario is projected to worsen in the coming years. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of people using drugs increased by 22%, largely due to population growth. Demographic changes alone suggest an estimated 11% increase in global drug users by 2030. Africa, including Nigeria, is expected to experience a significant surge of 40% in drug users due to its rapidly growing and young population. These projections indicate that Nigeria could potentially have around 20 million drug users by 2030, exacerbating public health and security challenges.
Addressing the Issue
While the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), under the leadership of General Muhammad Buba Marwa (rtd), has made commendable efforts in tackling drug abuse, more actions are needed to combat the supply of hard drugs into the country. Authorities must intensify their efforts to identify and apprehend those responsible for trafficking these substances.
Prevention and Awareness
Preventing drug abuse requires a comprehensive approach involving all stakeholders. Parents play a crucial role in monitoring their children’s activities and ensuring they associate them with positive influences. Nigerian youths must be educated about the dangers of drug abuse, emphasizing the life-threatening consequences and the risk of diseases like lung cancer and hepatitis C associated with smoking.
The escalating rates of drug abuse among Nigerian youths present a disheartening and worrisome situation. Urgent action is required to address this public health and security crisis. Efforts must be made to enhance law enforcement measures, intensify drug supply interception, and increase public awareness programs to educate young individuals about the risks and consequences of drug abuse. By working together, the government, communities, and families can strive to create a healthier and safer environment for Nigerian youths.