George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The Registrar of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Elijah Mohammed, has raised concerns that 14.3 million mostly young Nigerians are engaged in illicit drug use, with cannabis being the most rampant substance abused; saying that the use of narcotics, psychotropics and other illicit substances have assumed a frightening dimension in the country.
This revelation comes as Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha has pledged to partner with the Council to fight the scourge of drug abuse in the state, especially rife in secondary and tertiary institutions.
The PCN registrar, who disclosed this at an advocacy workshop on drug and substance abuse in Nigeria for the South East zone for secondary school students held over the weekend in Owerri, the Imo State capital, said that the rate of illicit drug use in the country, especially among young people, has become alarming; and that the workshop was organised as part of the mandate of the Council to regulate and control pharmaceutical products and enlightened the public on the ramifications of substance abuse.
“The Drug Use Survey report released in January in 2019 is the first ever comprehensive, nationwide survey that examines the extent and patterns of drug use in the country. According to this report, the drug use prevalence in Nigeria is 14.4 percent or 14.3 million people between the ages of 15- 64 years. This is comparatively higher when compared to global prevalence rate of 5.5 percent as per WDR 2019. The highest used drug is cannabis (10. 6) million, followed by opioids, 4.6 million, mainly non medical use prescription Opioids and cough syrups 2.4 millions,” Mohammed revealed.
“This workshop is intended to achieve key objectives of providing a platform of interaction and discourage the indiscriminate use and abuse of medicines and other substances with the potential to promote criminality. The goal is to explore and promote economic development potentials among Nigeria youths and help the target audience understand and appreciate the fact that it is profitable to live healthy lifestyle without necessarily engaging in the indiscriminate use of illicit and substances.”
Meanwhile, Imo Governor Emeka Ihedioha commended the Council for choosing the state to kick start the advocacy workshop on the dangers of drug abuse for youths and students in Nigeria’s South East.
Ihedioha, who pledged to partner with the PCN to fight the substance abuse menace in the state, advised young people to stay away from illicit drugs if they want to be useful to themselves and to society at large.
The Governor’s statement, delivered by his representative, Special Adviser (Media), Mr Steve Osuji, reads:
“I must commend the Council for choosing the state as a take off point for the advocacy workshop on the dangers of Drug abuse for the south east zone. This administration will surely partner with the council to fight the scourge in Imo state as part of our effort of rebuilding the state. This government is also resolved to ensure that we fund our health sector adequately to enable them to perform their obligation of delivering quality health services to the people of the state.”
“However, I want to advise the young people who are present at this workshop to shun drug abuse if you want to stay alive and be useful to yourselves and the state and nation because indulging in drugs will destroy your lives. Stay off drugs and face your studies.”