By Olasunkanmi Onifade
Trauma Awareness and Resilience (TAR) Initiative, an NGO, has called on the Federal Government to come up with stronger legislation on the use and production of illegal drugs.
The National Coordinator, Mr Francis Onyekwue, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja to commemorate the International Drug Day.
NAN reports that the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed on June 26, every year.
The aim of the Day is to create awareness about issues related to drugs and strengthening action and cooperation in order to make the world free of drug abuse.
According to him, addiction to drugs is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterised by compulsive drug seeking, continued use, in spite of harmful consequences and long-lasting changes in the brain.
“Drug abuse and addiction have eaten into the fabrics of Nigerian society. They have been seen as a way of life and been considered normal.
“At first, you may choose to take a drug because you like the way it makes you feel.
“You may think you can control how much and how often you use it. But over time, drugs change how your brain works.
“These physical changes can last a long time. They make you lose control and can lead to damaging behaviours,” he said.
Onyekwue said many people did not understand why or how other people became addicted to drugs.
He said some might mistakenly think that those who used drugs lacked moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to.
Onyekwue said drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually took more than good intentions or a strong will.
“The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people.
“But repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with the ability to resist intense urges to take drugs,” he said.
Onyekwue said drug abuse was considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness.
According to him, drug addiction and abuse of dependency, affect the individual, the family, the community and the society at large.
“It has physical, emotional and mental health consequences on both the individual and the family. It also contributes to low productivity and high rate of unemployment,” he said.
Onyekwue, however, called on families to begin to play their roles, being the first institution children are exposed to.
“Communities should embrace community solidarity, communal living, whereby one person’s child is everyone’s child.
“People should help out those who are already engaged in drug addiction, to discourage stigma.
“All bill board adverts, radio and television, on drugs and alcohol, must be sensored,” he said.
Onyekwue said there was need for more education, awareness and sensitisation at all levels. (NAN)