Veronica Ezeh Calls For More Efforts Against Drug, Substance Abuse—-A mental health advocate, Mrs Veronica Ezeh, has called for a holistic approach to reverse increasing cases of substance use and drug abuse in Nigeria.
Ezeh, the Chief Executive Officer, Adicare Rehabilitation Home, an NGO, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
She said abuse of substances and drugs had become prevalent among young adults.
According to her, more than 90 per cent of psychiatric patients at the rehabilitation homes are young adults/youths who developed mental illness due to drug abuse.
Ezeh said research had shown that genetics 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, there would be prevalence of substance abuse.
Ezeh, also a psychiatric nurse at the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said many youths were embracing several crude options for getting ‘high.’
To get high is a word or phrase for getting oneself intoxicated with drug and substance.
According to Ezeh, sniffing glue, petrol, sewage and urine was becoming common.
She decried the effects of the internet and social media on mental health of many youths, adding that many young people got 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.
Ezeh called more efforts to address the public health issues and social problems resulting from abuse of drugs.
She said such efforts should include increased implementation of advocacy, and public awareness campaign through the print, social and electronic media and religious institutions at community level.
She also called for increasing involvement of educational institutions through emphasis in the curriculum and programmes about the dangers of drug abuse.
According to her, the NGO plans to carry out sensitisation programmes to secondary schools to educate students about the inherent dangers and effects of drug abuse.
She called for a speedy implementation of the Mental Health Law to address issues of prevention, management, reduce stigmatisation and enhance mental health-seeking behaviour among citizens.
Ezeh called for an improvement in Nigeria’s socio-economic parameters, toward reducing poverty, unemployment, stress and traffic decongestion.
She said, “Sometimes frustration, hopelessness, boredom are factors that push some people to drugs.
“If the government can stabilise the economy by providing the basic amenities, security, job opportunities, conducive environment for businesses to strive, among others; that will go a long way to curb the menace of drug abuse in the society,” she said.