The Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse, CRISA, has said that Nigeria must be prepared to take hard decisions if the war against drug abuse must be won.
Prof. Isidore Obot, Director of the centre said the rate of drugs and substance abuse among Nigerians was rapid with no corresponding access to treatment.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 3rd Biennial National Symposium on “Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria”, he warned against the rising spate of drug abuse stressing that it had dire consequences.
The theme of the forum was: “Community Responses to Drug and Alcohol Problems in Nigeria’’.
Prof. Obot went on to explain that Nigeria should prepare to make some hard calls as the fight against drug abuse lies with policies and the role of drug law enforcement agencies.
“We have neglected the other side of drug problems, it is not all about the variability or trafficking as it used to be, but now the drugs that have been trafficked are being abused in the country.
“Drug use is a health problem and response to this problem should be driven by health and social welfare concerns with total recognition of human rights of drug users.
“Treatment for drug use disorder should be available as at when needed, and the best available evidence of effectiveness should guide the formulation and implementation of interventions.
“We will not succeed in addressing the growing problems of drug use in our communities if we continue to rely on untested strategies that just seem to make sense or feel good.
“And it will be more difficult to succeed, if we continue to neglect hard choices that hold promise for reducing drug use and the harm associated with this behaviour,’’ he said.
Obot further said that regular research and national survey on illicit substance was one of the major ways to solving and checkmating drug use in the country.
The Project Coordinator, Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria, United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), Glen Prichard, said at the occasion that there was lack of access to drugs treatment in the country.
Prichard said that in 2016, only 1000 people accessed drug treatment in Nigeria which is a big gap in a country with about 180 million people.
He disclosed that the WHO and UNODC have trained a lot of health workers on drug treatment since 2016 to promote community drug treatment in Nigeria.
However, the coordinator urged the Nigerian Government to treat drug abuse as a health issue than a criminal justice issue.
A representative the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Damian Agbo, said that the ministry has put together programmes and is working with other stakeholders to curb drug and substance abuse in the country.