As Nigeria grapples with drug abuse, Nigerian Navy has warned operatives to stay away from using drugs. It offered to help those abusing substances without sanctions as long as they do not return to the habit.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ikechukwu Ogalla, spoke in Lagos at a lecture at NNS QUORRA in Apapa.
Ogalla, represented by Chief of Administration, Rear Admiral Kennedy Ezete, noted the negative effect of substance abuse on operational efficiency, adding anyone under the influence of such substances would not be able to make sound judgments.
He said Navy decided to have the lecture because of the drug misuse crisis, noting the service was not taking punitive stance against first time offenders.
“No, we are not punishing them. Rather, we are encouraging users to come out so they can be rehabilitated. Where you can start talking about punishment is if such a person returns to the habit after treatment,” Ogalla said.
Consultant Psychiatrist at Alimosho General Hospital, Olumide Adegbokun, who practises at Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital (NNRH) Ojo, said cases of substance abuse were on the rise.
He said since he started visiting NNHR, there has not been a period they didn’t have an overflow in the eight-bedded ward provided for such cases.
“The ward was built 18 months ago. I can tell you there is no day it has been vacant. In fact, they had to provide a four-bed overflow to house more with substance abuse eight months ago.’’
“Most of the time the personnel abuse Indian Hemp because it is less expensive in that environment. They also abuse alcohol and tramadol.
“Generally, people don’t abuse one particular substance, it is scarce to see a person abusing just one particular substance, they usually have a combination of substances they abuse,” he explained.
Adegbokun said that substance abuse was prevalent in the military because of the job and the things the personnel were exposed to.
“The chances of relapse is very high because the socioeconomic environment is unfavorable in the sense that they don’t have money.
“Because they are abusing substances or they are addicted to substances, they have offended the navy and their salaries might have been withheld due to this.
“Their economic environment does not favor their rehabilitation and when they are being discharged, the stress of financial crises push them out to go into substances again and they relapse.
“They also don’t have a supportive social system in the military that can help them,” he said.
Adegbokun recommended that maximum attention should be given to finding solutions to the country’s drug use epidemic, lamenting the accessibility of substances to users.
“There’s easy access to drugs because it is everywhere. This means that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) needs to be empowered to do more.
“Proper rehabilitation of those that are already patients is another way to curb drug abuse, redesigning of the rehabilitation centers to make it more effective; the socio-economic environment should also improve.
“The family should also provide comfort and support the users to curb drug abuse in Nigeria,” he said.
SOURCE: The Nation