Following a report that about 14.3 million people in Nigeria use drugs outside prescription, drug control experts have urged the authorities to improve on drug control policies in the country.
The report of the National Drug Survey Use, released in Abuja, on Tuesday, showed that the number of drug users in Nigeria is higher than the entire population of some European countries.
The statistics showed that those involved in drug use are mainly between 15 and 64 years of age. One in every four is also a woman.
The survey, from which the report was written, was conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA).
It was funded by the European Union.
The survey showed that the rate of drug use in Nigeria in 2018 is more than twice the global average of 5.3 percent.
According to the report, close to three million of the drug users are drug dependent and cannot access help due to lack of health facilities.
Speaking at the public presentation of the report, the Minister of State for Health, Osagie Ehanire, said drug use in Nigeria has become a public health challenge.
He said “the extremely limited availability of drug counseling and treatment services has intensified the health crisis in the country.
“Women drug users often do not get specialised attention in the country because most of the limited facilities are targeted at male drug users.”
The survey is the first ever large scale nation-wide survey to examine the extent and pattern of drug use in the country. It involved 38,850 respondents in the household survey and 9,344 high-risk drug users across all states of the country.
The report provides for the first time, a robust data on the prevalence of drug use in Nigeria at the national level and also by geopolitical zones and states.
Ehanire thanked UNODC and EU for supporting the Nigerian government to conduct the survey and emphasised the importance of having statistically sound and relevant data on the pattern of drug use, including high-risk drug use, to inform policy formulation and implementation.