Mental health experts advocate community-level programmes to reduce drug abus

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Lagos, – mental health experts on Thursday advocated for more community-level programmes for reducing drug abuse among youths the country.

The experts made the call in interviews the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

A Consultant Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatry Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr Moses Ojo, said that drug abuse was a nationwide issue which affected both the urban and rural communities.

“In fact, it is more prevalent in the urban than rural communities and the factors attributed to drug use include high population, unemployment, poverty, availability and accessibility of drugs.

“The results of these factors are idleness, boredom and youths seeking drugs for entertainment,’’ he told NAN.

Ojo said that only a few health facilities provided treatment services and responded to the needs of the population with this problem.

He said it was a challenge, adding that there was need to bring education, prevention programmes closer to communities.

“Lagos State has only one federal treatment centre and so, people with addiction usually have to travel long distances to help.

“Some people are not even aware of the facility and where it is located and so they do not get treatment,’’ he said.

Ojo said that Nigerians needed more of prevention than treatment, because treatment was expensive.

Also speaking, another Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Taiwo Akindipe, said the government had the responsibility of alleviating poverty and providing employment to achieve drug prevention.

Akindipe also advocated for the incorporation of drug education in schools curricula, saying that “youths need to be equipped with problem solving skills’’.

According to him, addiction is a chronic relapsing disease, which is uncontrollable and once established, the brain is hijacked, including its structure and function.

“Addiction is not limited to only people in the streets and everyone is vulnerable and it can afflict anybody.

“There is need for the regulatory bodies to enforce laws against planting, possession, sale and availability of drugs,’’ he said.

The doctor said that drug abuse was a preventable behaviour and addiction was treatable with all efforts put together. (NAN)