A mental health advocate, Veronica Ezeh, has called for a holistic approach to reverse increasing cases of substance use and drug abuse in Nigeria.
Ms. Ezeh, the CEO of Adicare Rehabilitation Home, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
She said abuse of substances and drugs has become prevalent among young adults.
Ms. Ezeh said research had shown that genetic issues, early deprivation, adversity, influence and exposure to relatives or friends who abused substances promoted drug abuse in people.
She added that studies had consistently shown that wherever there were issues of poor social infrastructure, poverty, unemployment, low educational opportunities and financial instability, among others, substance abuse would be prevalent.
Ms. Ezeh, also a psychiatric nurse at the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said many youths were embracing several crude options for getting high.
According to Ms. Ezeh, sniffing glue, petrol, sewage, and urine was becoming common.
She decried the effects of the internet and social media on the mental health of many youths, adding that many young people got the wrong information on drug abuse and other atrocities from the internet.
“These things are chemicals, and these youths want something that will create euphoric effects to get them high; the smell of petrol has been shown to get people high.
“Also, exposure to the internet gives these youths access to a lot of wrong and bad information concerning most of these toxicant substances/drugs and how they can be used to get what they want,” she said.
Ms. Ezeh called for more efforts to address the public health issues and social problems resulting from the abuse of drugs.
She said such efforts should include increased implementation of advocacy and public awareness campaigns through the print, social and electronic media and religious institutions at the community level.
She also called for increasing the involvement of educational institutions through an emphasis on the curriculum and programmes about the dangers of drug abuse.
According to her, the NGO plans to carry out sensitisation programmes in secondary schools to educate students about the inherent dangers and effects of drug abuse.
Ms. Ezeh called for improving Nigeria’s socio-economic parameters toward reducing poverty, unemployment, stress and traffic decongestion.
She said, “Sometimes frustration, hopelessness, and boredom are factors that push some people to drugs.
“If the government can stabilise the economy by providing the basic amenities, security, job opportunities, and a conducive environment for businesses to strive, among others, that will go a long way to curb the menace of drug abuse in society.”