The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it will establish six standard rehabilitation centres in each geo-political zone of Nigeria starting from 2022.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) disclosed this at the 5th Biennial National Symposium on Drugs and Drug Policy in Nigeria, held on Wednesday, October 27, in Abuja.
The theme of the symposium organised by the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA) is: “Substance Use, Addictive Behaviours and COVID-19.”
Marwa, who was the Guest of Honour at the symposium, said that the decision was part of efforts to treat the high number of persons suffering from drug addiction in the country.
Equally important, He said that when established, the centres would complement various efforts; by the Federal, State as well as Local Governments.
The NDLEA Chairman also said three of the centres would start next year as already proposed in the 2022 budget.
“Substance use and abuse around the world including Nigeria is on the increase; in terms of the proportion of the world population.
“Findings from the National Drug Use Survey (2018) conducted by the UNODC revealed that 14.4 per cent; or 14.3 million Nigerians aged 15 to 64 years had used a psychoactive substance in the past year for non-medical purposes.
“This means that One in Seven persons has used some substances other than alcohol and tobacco.
“More worrisome is the finding that among every four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman.
“Above findings of the survey by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) give a troubling portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria; and we can no longer live in denial that Nigeria has a thriving illicit drug culture.”
He said that the agency had also appealed to state governments to build more habitation centers; as existing ones were inadequate.
The NDLEA chairman also added that there was no doubt that substance use was impacting negatively; on the individual, family as well as society in general.
“Substance abuse affects the physical, social and psychological levels of the user and family members.
“Evidence has shown that COVID-19 infections are higher; or more common with people diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders (SUD).
“Hence, addiction care must be reinforced; in order to avoid complications of SUD and COVID-19.
“Reducing the demand for illicit drugs in the society depends to a large extent on the successful treatment of existing drug users.
“This fact accounts for the shift in global drug policy viz the treatment of drug problems as a public health issue.
“Consequently, we have operationalised our Standard Practice and Policy Guidelines; a treatment and also rehabilitation document developed in conjunction with UNODC.
“The document, like a field manual, provides synergy among our counsellors; and further boosts our capability at treatment and rehabilitation,” Marwa said.