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OPINION: Good Parenting As Catalyst For Drug Free Society

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The battle against substance abuse is one that spans generations and transcends borders. The prevalence of drug abuse is staggering, with far-reaching consequences that ripple through communities and societies.

According to the World Health Organisation, substance abuse claims the lives of over 500,000 people annually, with a staggering 35 million people worldwide suffering from drug use disorders.

Perhaps the most heart breaking aspect of this crisis is its impact on the youth.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that approximately 5.6 per cent of the global population aged 15-64 has used drugs at least once in the past year, with the highest prevalence among those aged 18-25.

Today the impact of drug use manifests in the society in several ways including such violent crimes as kidnapping, assassination, armed robbery and insurgency.

One of the states where this is rampant is Katsina where wanton destruction of lives and herds, kidnapping, raping and invasion of communities by criminal elements is now almost the order of the day.

“We must get to the root of the problem, and the root of the problem is drug abuse by the teeming youths in the state.

“We know that these inhumane acts cannot be committed without the influence of drugs“, worried Gov. Dikko Radda said during a visit to NDLEA chairman, retired Brig-Gen Buba Marwa.

He has support from Mr Ajentekebia Harry, Country Director of Logistics Nigeria, CONTINENT AFRIQUE, and NGO.

“Many of the criminal and terrorist activities you see today in Nigeria are drug induced. These drugs have the capacity to simulate unholy acts that can plunge the nation into chaos,” he said.

The consequences of substance abuse among youth are far-reaching, affecting academic performance, mental health, and future prospects.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. teenagers who use drugs are at an increased risk of developing addiction later in life, as well as experiencing cognitive impairments and mental health issues

In the face of these staggering statistics, the role of good parenting emerges as a beacon of hope and a powerful catalyst for change. Numerous studies have demonstrated the protective influence of strong family bonds, open communication, and positive role modeling in preventing substance abuse among youth.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reports that children with involved parents are up to 50 per cent less likely to engage in substance abuse.

Furthermore, a study by the National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that teenagers who frequently have family dinners are 33 per cent less likely to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.

By fostering a nurturing environment, instilling resilience, and providing guidance, good parents can equip their children with the tools to navigate the challenges of life without resorting to substance abuse.

While the role of good parenting is undeniably crucial, addressing the pervasive issue of substance abuse requires a multifaceted approach that involves collaboration among families, communities, and policymakers.

By empowering families, strengthening community support systems, and implementing effective policies, we can forge a path towards a drug-free society – one where the next generation can thrive, unencumbered by the devastating consequences of substance abuse.

The Federal Government says it recongnises the role of civil society organisations in combating drug abuse among young people.

Consequently, it is prepared to partner with Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (VGADA), to raise awareness against drug abuse.

It is also prepared to rehabilitate and provide skills for youths affected by substance abuse.

Mr Ayodele Olawande, Minister of State for Youth Development, made the pledge in Abuja when he received Dr Hope Omeiza, Executive Director of VGADA detox centre.

“There is also need to enlighten the parents, especially the mothers at the grassroots, so as to help educate children and youths on drug abuse and illicit trafficking,” he said.

He said that the ministry had been to 19 states and many local government areas to campaign against dangers of drugs, substance abuse and illicit trafficking.

“From our experience, we have two different types of young people today – the formal and the informal.

“The formal people know and are aware of the dangers of these drugs, but the informal are at the grassroots level.

“We are not engaging the informal people and that is why illicit drug use has been spreading widely to the towns, the villages, and to the grassroots.

“This is the reason you’ll see me in every community engaging with the stakeholders, the women especially.

“We believe that everything begins from the home; with the mothers talking to their children, it will help curtail the menace to the barest minimum,” he said.

Drawing example from Adamawa, the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) paints a grim picture of the drug situation in Nigeria, especially as it affects the youth population.

State Commander of NDLEA, Mr Samson Agboalu, says it has arrested no fewer than 454 suspected illicit drug traffickers/peddlers from June 2023 till date.

Agboalu said the figure reflected a 9.38 per cent decrease from the 501 arrests made in the previous year. While those arrested decreased in Adamawa, drug seizures significantly rose, with a total of 4,732.128 kilogrammes of hard drugs confiscated.

”This is a 75 per cent increase from the 1,164.750 kg seized between June 2022 and June 2023.

“These seizures include a range of substances such as Cannabis Sativa, Methamphetamine (ice), Cocaine, Tramadol, Exol-5, Diazepam tablets, Codeine-based syrup, Rohypnol tablets, and Pentazocine injections.

The curve of conviction of drug offenders has witnessed an upward curve as prosecution efforts and forfeitures from June 2023 till date saw 148 individuals being convicted.

This is a major increase from 115 convictions recorded between June 2022 and June 2023.

“The highest sentences handed down were between10 and five years’ imprisonment, with the least six months.

“Monetary forfeiture recorded an increase, with the sum of N851, 153 forfeited to the Federal Government and deposited into the Treasury Single Account (TSA), compared to N729,480 in the previous year”, he said.

The NDLEA commander called for the adoption of preventive measures as a strategic approach in addressing drug abuse in the state.

While the civil society organisations and relevant government agencies battle drug abuse among youths, many stakeholder believe that winning the war would be a mirage without tackling it from the foundation of the society, the family.

On Feb. 12. NDLEA organised training on Drug Prevention Treatment and Care, DPTC, for spouses of state governors in Abuja.

The event offered the First Lady, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu to air her voice on what parents should do to stem drug abuse in the society.

“As mothers, we understand the profound impact that drug abuse can have on our children’s lives.

“Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to protect, nurture, and guide them towards a future free from the shackles of addiction’’, she said.

The First Lady’s position on the important role of parenting in curbing drug abuse among young people is reechoed by a medical expert, Dr Taiwo Malomo.

“As parents, especially as mothers, as a matter of urgency, we must rise up to tackle this menace“, says Malomo, a Principal Medical Office, ’’Surgical Emergency Department, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada.

Similarly, Dr Dotun Ajiboye, a psycho-socialist, advises parents and guardians to consult a mental health professional immediately they noticed substance use in a child, to save them from drug addiction.

“It is very important for every parent and guardian to know the root cause of substance abuse in their children.

“Parents should give godly guide on how to avoid or live above these triggers,” Ajiboye said in a media report. 

By Abiemwense Moru, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)



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