The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has issued a warning to Nigerian youths, urging them to abstain from substance abuse and involvement in illicit drugs in order to secure a brighter and more prosperous future.
Rita Geh, Director of Narcotics and Controlled Substance at the NDLEA, delivered this advice during a conference organized by the Healing Heart Foundation, a Lagos-based NGO, specifically designed for secondary school students.
The theme of the conference, titled “Youth for the Future: Power of Focus,” aimed to emphasize the importance of directing one’s attention towards positive endeavors.
Ms. Geh expressed concern over the rampant abuse of prohibited substances and drugs among Nigerian youths, highlighting that these issues permeate every corner of society. Nail polish, lizard feces, and paints were cited as examples of substances being abused, with some individuals even mixing popular beverages like Lacasera and Tom-Tom sweet with illicit drugs.
In order to achieve success in life, Ms. Geh stressed that young individuals should completely steer clear of any involvement with illicit drugs or substances.
She called for a collaborative effort among various stakeholders, including governments, families, policymakers, and organizations, to combat drug abuse, emphasizing that it is not solely the responsibility of the NDLEA.
Due to the alarming increase in drug abuse and its detrimental effects on society, it is crucial that all concerned citizens collectively address this issue.
Ms. Geh underlined that many youths are unaware of the adverse effects of drug abuse on their lives and the lives of those around them. Drug abuse not only affects the individual but also has far-reaching consequences for their families and the wider public.
She further emphasized that drug abuse lies at the root of societal issues such as insecurity, kidnapping, rape, violence, and other social vices that afflict the country. Additionally, she highlighted the concerning trend of young people constantly seeking new substances to intoxicate themselves.
Sophy Mbanisi, President of the Healing Heart Foundation, explained that the conference aimed to raise awareness among secondary school students about the harmful effects of drug abuse.
Mrs. Mbanisi noted the prevalence of drug abuse among young people, emphasizing the necessity of guiding teenagers and youths away from such harmful behavior.
She revealed that a total of 20 private and government secondary schools were represented at the event, with each school bringing 20 students, excluding their teachers.
Mrs. Mbanisi stressed the importance of Nigerian youths fostering hope, belief in oneself, and rejecting drug abuse for a brighter future, as they are the future leaders of the country.
Racheal Mubo, a psychiatric nurse and Assistant Director of Nursing Services at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in Yaba, urged the youth to reject drug abuse and addiction for the sake of their mental health.
Ms. Mubo highlighted that over 90% of mental illnesses are caused by drug and substance abuse, emphasizing the need for young people to understand the implications of their actions.
She explained that chronic illicit drug use can lead to various short and long-term changes in the brain, resulting in mental health issues such as memory loss, depression, and anxiety. Moreover, drug abuse can have damaging effects on the body, leading to additional illnesses.
Shade Ajayi, a sexual abuse expert, advised young individuals to reject rape, sexual violence, and child sex abuse (CSA) to safeguard their future.
Mrs. Ajayi emphasized that both rape and CSA are severe violations of human rights, causing harm to both victims and perpetrators.
She clarified that any sexual intercourse without consent constitutes rape and is harmful to all parties involved. Victims experience physical and mental trauma along with the accompanying stigma, while perpetrators face shame and potential imprisonment under the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.