Experts raise alarm over high rate of drug abuse among youths

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Psychiatrists have expressed worry over the rate at which youths nowadays indulge in drug abuse, thereby affecting their mental well-being.

The experts spoke during the 3rd edition of Dr Taiwo Adamson annual debate and mental wellness organised by the Association of Resident Doctors, Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

The former provost and Medical Director of the Aro Hospital, Mrs Taiwo Adamson, raised the alarm, saying, “I have a private hospital, and eight out of 10 patients we admit are related to drug use. It’s not because of psychiatric illness; it’s because of addictive disorders in these individuals.”

Adamson regretted that youths now synthesise drugs like Indian hemp in the laboratory.

“Before, we knew that Indian hemp came from plants, either from the leaves, stems, or seeds. But now, they go to the laboratory and synthesise Indian hemp, and that is what our boys and girls are using now. They call it Colorado,” she stated.

Dr Adamson said: “When they take the drugs, they’re in semi-comatose. Methamphetamines send quick messages between the brain and the body. Abnormal messages result in abnormal behaviour. Many of these young people are experiencing this, and it’s disheartening. We are just praying to have more programmes like this, where young people are exposed to look at the issues themselves,” she said.

Likewise, the Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Ogun State, Dr Kunle Ashimi and the Secretary-General of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria, Dr Abayomi Olajide, underscored the role of government intervention in the battle against drug abuse.

The duo emphasised the collaborative efforts of Non-Governmental Organisations and the medical community, urging the government to play a more active role.

According to Ashimi, “when the government takes decisive action, law enforcement agencies will follow suit.”

While commending operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency for their efforts, he added that recent drug seizures, exceeding N100 billion in value, highlighted the severity of the issue.

Ashimi expressed concern about the implications for Nigeria, stating that individuals on drugs pose a potential danger to the community due to their “disinhibited behaviour”.

On his part, Olajide said the government should declare drug abuse as an epidemic.

“The effect has reached an alarming rate, as eight out of 10 patients in conventional hospitals are related to substance abuse,” he stated.

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