UNODC, DIG Engages Ebonyi youth on dangers of drug abuse

Ruth Oginyi

A United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, UNODC funded organization, Development, and Integrity Intervention Goals (DIG) Foundation has engaged selected Ebonyi youths on the dangers of drug abuse and the need to stop it.

This is to curtail the negative effects of drugs on the youths and the economy of the country even as the 2023 elections approach.

In a three day training on drug-free action
and youth creativity camp which took place in Abakaliki, the Executive Director, DIG foundation Mr. Oliver Chima Aja, said the training was aimed at curbing the growing rate of drug abuse and dependence among the youths in Ebonyi State.

He said to take the message to the grassroots, 18 participants were drawn from 8 council areas in the state for the training as community peer educators.

The local governments include Abakaliki, Afikpo South, Afikpo North, Ezza South, Ezza North, Ohaukwu, Ebonyi, and Ikwo.

Ajah noted that DIG is working towards a peaceful and democratic Nigeria with a healthy environment and healthy people, free from inequality and corruption.

According to the DIG Executive Director, the intent of the training, was to expose participants to the dangers of drug abuse and the need to shun it, and also equip them with essential knowledge and skills to enable them to avoid drug abuse, and influence their peers positively at the grassroots.

His words, “If you look at the challenges suffered in terms of drug abuse issues in the country, and Ebonyi State, in particular, especially this recent Mkpuru- Immiri, you will understand the need for urgent action.

“Sometime last year, I was trained by UNODC in the project Response to Drug and related organized crime in Nigeria, and as a foremost zonal coordinator for Community Intervention Network on Drug, seeing the situation of drugs in the country, I was troubled.

” I had to apply and got approval for the UNODC program for the 2020 session.
We need to promote drug-free actions among youths, especially now that the 2023 elections are around the corner.”

On the number of participating council areas, he said, “The stakeholders such as the Ministry of Youths and sports, NDLEA, among others, requested that other drug-prone local government areas be also included.

The DIG Advisor, Dr. Emma Abah, the Assistant Commander, Drug Demand Reduction Department, NDLEA, Godwin Erepa, and the Principal Psychologist, Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Eze Nsi Ude, in their presentations, enjoined the youths to take the peer educator assignment very seriously as it is a way of contributing to a healthy society.

the resource present spoke on drug-related issues, causes of drug abuse, consequences, drug demand, and reduction; economic, social, and health implications of drug abuse, roles of youth leaders in drug abuse prevention as well as support and amelioration strategies.

Erepa in his presentation expressed worry that the current global drug situation is alarming and women are among the. drug peddlers.

“One-third of the World’s drug users are women. There is approximately 3.5 million female who injects drugs, out of estimated 12 million people who inject drugs. An estimated 10.8 million men and 3.4 million women reported past drug use in Nigeria.

Erepa maintained that the prevalence of drug abuse promotes indiscriminate sexual behaviors, violence, and neurological disorders.

He identified low self-esteem, Poverty, instability in character, Chaotic family/ broken homes, medical records, and Peer influence as some of the causes of drug abuse.

On his part, Eze Nsi Ude, in his presentations, decried ineffective facilities and manpower for the management and treatment of drug users and called on the government and good-spirited individuals to improve existing facilities.

“Globally, only 1 in 6 people that need treatment receive treatment.
“In Africa, it is one out of 18, and that is because of insufficient capacity.
Ude who recommended a minimum of 3 months of treatment for drug-dependent persons to achieve better results, identified major forms of treatment to include counseling, detoxification, abstinence-based treatment, mutual help, and support group as well as drug substitution programs.

Dr. Abah DIG advisor pointed out that there was a connection between drugs and crimes such as killing, kidnapping, incest, and other forms of abuse and violence.

He charged participants to drive the knowledge gained from the training home to their various communities and social groups.

” You are now ambassadors to the fight against drugs and crime. We have prepared you here as advocates to restore the dignity of our State and country, free from drugs.” He said

Ude Chinenye, Ozia Chinedu, Igwe Nkechi, and Eseni Egwu Mba among other peer educators who spoke, commended the funder and organizers of the training for imparting such knowledge to them and promise to create a change through community sensitization and focus group discussion among their peers.

Highlights of the training were a declaration of a drug-free advocate by the participants and the presentation of certificates to the trainees.

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