The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Friday, advised Nigerian youths to desist from substance abuse and involvement in illicit drugs for a greater and better future.
Rita Geh, director, narcotics and controlled substance, NDLEA, gave the advice at a conference organised for secondary school students by the Healing Heart Foundation, an NGO, on Friday in Lagos.
The conference had the theme: “Youth for the Future: Power of Focus”.
Ms Geh expressed worry over the abuse of prohibited substances and drugs among Nigerian youths, which, she said, could be found at every nook and cranny of the society.
She said that some of the substances and drugs that people abused included nail polish, lizard faeces, paints, adding that some people also mix Lacasera and Tom-Tom sweet, among others.
She advised that youths should desist from any form of illicit drug/substance involvement if they want to be successful in life.
Ms Geh called for collective efforts by all stakeholders and all concerned patriotic citizens in the fight against drug abuse, saying that it should not be left to the NDLEA alone.
“The increasing rate of drug abuse and its corresponding devastating effects make it pertinent for all stakeholders including governments, families, policy-makers and organisations to collectively look at the issue with a view to addressing it.
“Unfortunately, many youths do not know the adverse effects of drug and abuse on human life.
“Drug abuse does not only affect the abuser, it also affects his family and the general public.
“Drug abuse is the root cause of insecurity, kidnapping, rape, violence and other social vices that are bedevilling the country today.
“And every day, new substances of intoxication are coming up and young people are trying new ways of getting intoxicated,” Geh noted.
Sophy Mbanisi, president of the foundation, said that the event was organised to sensitize secondary school students on the effects of abusing drugs.
Mrs Mbaisi said that considering the prevalence of drug abuse among the youths, the objective of the event was to guide teenagers and youths against drug abuse.
She said that some young ones had started abusing drugs even at primary or secondary school level.
She said that 20 secondary schools, both private and government schools, were represented at the event, with each of the schools having a total of 20 students, excluding their teachers.
According to her, Nigerian youths need to keep hope alive, believe in themselves and shun drug abuse for a brighter future, because they are tomorrow’s leaders.
Speaking, a psychiatric nurse, Racheal Mubo, urged the youth to say no to drug abuse and addiction in the interest of their mental health.
Ms Mubo, also an assistant director, nursing services, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said that over 90 per cent of mental illnesses were caused by drug and substance abuse.
She noted that many youths do not know the implications of drug involvement, saying that it could affect one’s mental, moral, financial and physical behaviour.
According to her, it is imperative to make youths understand the mental health implications of their action in abusing drugs.
“The chronic use of illicit drugs can lead to short and long-term changes in the brain, which could lead to mental health issues like memory loss, depression and anxiety.
“It can even damage the body system, causing other sicknesses. Drug abuse can ruin one’s life and make one useless for life,” Mubo said.
Shade Ajayi, a sexual abuse expert, advised the youth to shun rape, sexual violence and child sex abuse (CSA) for the sake of their future.
Mrs Ajayi described rape and CSA as a huge violation of human rights, saying that both are injurious to the victim and perpetrator.
She said that “any sexual intercourse without consent is rape and it is injurious to both persons.
“The victim will be physically and mentally hurt with attendant stigma, while the predator will be shamed and imprisoned under the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act”.