Drug abuse education should be taught at all levels-Oluwafemi Silas, Expert
Drug abuse is fast becoming an epidemic in the society. According to statistics, the major victims are the youths between age 10 – 29.
Allure Vanguard caught up with Mr Oluwafemi Silas, who is a graduate of public Administration and Social Work. He is a Drug Abuse expert and campaigner, a social justice crusader with over twenty years experience in social work. He was at the United Nations Refugee Camp at Ijebu Oru in 1996 to work with the Liberian refugees at the camp. He is a member of Nigeria Association of Social Workers and a partner with Foundation for a Drug -Free World Los Angeles, CA in the United States.
He spoke about the epidemic of drug abuse in the society.
Read excerpts of interview:
What is Drug Abuse?
Drug Abuse mean the use of chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain. It could also be define as a pattern of repeated drug or alcohol use that often interferes with health, work and social relationships.
What are the common drugs abused?
The most commonly used and abused drugs in Nigeria are alcohol, Marijuana, opioids and morphine derivatives generally referred to as painkillers, these drugs contain opium or opium- like substances and are used to relieve pain e g tramadol, codine cough syrup, inhalants among others. Don’t also forget that we have drugs such as heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine, LSD, Ectasy, Crystal meth and methamphetamine etc
How do these drugs affect the user?
Drugs makes them feel ‘ High ‘. Many drugs directly affect the mind. They can distort the user’s perception of what is happening around him or her. As a result, the person’s actions may be odd, irrational, inappropriate and even destructive. Drugs block off all sensation the desirable ones with the unwanted. They also wipe out ability and alertness and muddy one’s thinking. Drugs destroy creativity and can lift one into a fake kind of cheerfulness, but when the drug wears off, he or she crashes even lower than before. Drugs blur memory, causing blank spots. It causes brain swelling and brain death. For example Inhalants include chemicals found in household products such as aerosol sprays, glue, paints, nail polish etc which people inhale to get ‘high’. These chemicals affect the brain and can cause permanent physical and mental damages.
What are the effects of these drugs abused?
The effects of drug abuse on health are many. They include but not limited to the following:
– A weaken immune system increasing the risk of illness and infection.
– Heart conditions ranging from abnormal heart rates to heart attack and collapsed veins and blood vessel infection from injected drugs.
– Nausea and abdominal pain, which can lead to changes in appetite and weight loss.
– Increase strain on the liver, which puts the person at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure.
– Seizures, Stroke, mental confusion and brain damage.
– Lung diseases especially Cancer of the lung.
– Problems with memory, attention and decision making, which make daily living difficult.
Global effects of drug on the body, such as breast development in men and increase in body temperature which can lead to other health problems.
In addition drug abuse also affect the behavior of people in the following ways
5, Impaired judgement
7, Loss of self control.
Drug abuse can also affect unborn babies. Because drugs may contain some impurities that can be harmful to an unborn baby, pregnant women who use drugs can harm the foetus with risky behaviour and poor nutrition.. Drug abuse can also lead to premature birth and birth defects.
Why is high rate of drug addicts in the society especially among the youths?
A lot of factors are responsible for this including high unemployment rate, poverty, large number of out of school children especially in the northern part of the country, lack of political will on the part of the government to put adequate preventive measures in place to stop drug abuse amongst others.
Why do they indulge in drug abuse?
-To escape from their problems
– For Relaxation
-To relieve boredom
-To rebel against constituted authority or their parents.
-To seem grown up.
– To fit in among their friends.
Finally, as a result of peer pressure.
How can drug addicts be treated?
Drug addicts can be treated in the following ways:
1, Pharmacological treatment. By this we mean the use of medication that can reverse the pleasurable sensations obtained from drug use. Disulfiram is a medication given to alchoholics that can deter them from consuming more alcohol.
2, Substitution therapy. A very potent drug such as heroin is replaced by a less potent opioid to help wean a patient off the drug without causing onset of severe withdraw symptoms. For example methadone and buprenorphine
3, Psychological approaches and counselling. Congnitive behavioral therapy and counselling help a patient during initial treatment of drug addiction as well as maintaining a drug free existence and helping to prevent relapse in the long term
4, Support Group- Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and similar support groups for drug abusers help prevent relapse and reduce the risk of depression and other Co-morbid Psychological problems.
5, Finally, Rehabilitation support. This involve helping a person re-establish themselves in society and address problems in the family to help prevent homelessness and other social problems.
6, During treatment the patient is expected to give full cooperation to the care givers and all health practitioners involve in his or her treatment and must take all his medications as at when due in other to achieve a maximum results. Family members are expected to show love and care to the patient and give all necessary support. The family and the community must not stigmatized the patient after recovery.
In conclusion, we must all join hands together to fight the scourge of drug abuse. All stakeholders must come together to brainstorm and come up with new strategies and chart a way forward on how to combat drug abuse. Federal Government must come up with new policy frame work, collaborate with relevant stakeholders, raise the level of awareness, put preventive measures in place and provide enough funding for government agencies involve in fighting drug abuse. Drug education must be taught in our schools at all levels.