On several occasions, the media and concerned citizens have expressed concerns about the increasing number of youths that engage in drug abuse and the dangers it poses for national development.
They note that the position of the youth remains cardinal to the future development of any country and drug addiction pose a challenge to their useful engagements in development.
Dr Umar Yusuf, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Maiduguri, believes that youths are vulnerable to social menace of drugs abuse in Nigeria that is a developing country.
He observes that substances such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, syrups and tablets with codeine capable of intoxicating and inhalants such as household cleaners, among others, are found in motor parks and among local traders.
Observers, therefore, note that the recent decision of Prof. Isaac Adewole, the Minister of Health, to banning the sales of codeine containing cough syrups without prescription across the country is in a good beginning in a bid to rescue the youth from drug abuse.
Worried by the rate of drug abuse among the youth, the United Nations says more than 185 million people in the world above the age of 15 years were taking various drugs by the end of the 20th century.
In further attempts to free Nigerian youths from drug abuse, concerned citizens recently organised Nigerian Security Stakeholders and Youth Summit in Abuja.
During the summit, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Chairman, retired Col. Muhammad Abdallah, instructed the youth to abstain from social vices and drug abuse for them to be useful for national development.
He drew the youth’s attention to other nations across the world that would kill or sentence drug offenders to death.
He noted that the influence of drug heightened security challenges, observing that the circulation of hard drugs was high in rapidly developing cities.
According to him, the NDLEA is collaborating with several agencies and concerned individuals in checking drug abuse among the youth.
He said some of the partners in the collaboration were the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), several individual motor parks and non-governmental organisations.
“The NYSC has helped in various secondary schools in the campaign against drug abuse by educating the students on the dangers of drug abuse.
“We have a drug recovery team in the NYSC and it has joined hands in fighting drug abuse;, the team has visited higher institutions to sensitise the students to the dangers of illicit drugs, psychotropic substances.
The NYSC team also explains why drugs shouldn’t be an option in any situation the youth may find themselves,’’ Mr Peter Adegbe, the spokesperson of the NDLEA, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, said.
He noted further that the ban on sales of codeine containing cough syrups without prescription had strengthened the command operations toward ridding the FCT of illicit drugs.
“The moment the ban came up, a lot of illicit drug addicts went into hiding and the price of the drugs went up but we must make sure the territory is free of drug users.
He also observed that although codeine containing cough syrups might still be seen in some pharmacy and chemist shops, it must have been the ones around before the ban.
Adegbe explained that the NDLEA FCT Command “has adopted Surprise Raiding Strategy in its effort at tackling drug vendors and traffickers in the territory’’.
According to him, the strategy involves surprise raids on the traffickers’ black spots and hideouts in the territory.
He further said the command would not relent in its efforts at ridding the FCT of hard drugs, noting that several campaigns had been held in that regard.
Similarly, Dr Hope Abraham, the National Coordinator of Vanguard Against Drug Abuse, a non-governmental organisation, described the increase in drug abuse-related offences as worrisome.
“Tramadol abuse has been on the rise in recent times which also is a consequent rise in the adverse effects of abuse.
“From the young to the old, rich to the poor, none is exempted from the craze that is silently and surely permeating the fabric of our society.
“It is better for everyone to distance himself or herself from drug abuse that is eating deep into the society,’’ he said.
Abraham, therefore, insisted that drug use, abuse and addiction could never be the answer to worries and anxieties.
“This may grant a temporary relief for troubles but when the high is over, those problems will return with sorrow and depression that may ruin the lives of addicts permanently or result in death,” he warned.
Ariyo writes from News Agency of Nigeria.