Posted By Godwin Onyemaechi
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) has revealed that over 12,000 drug users underwent treatment and counselling in the past 20 months.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd) disclosed this in his speech at a conference on Mental Health organised by Intersect Consortium in Abuja.
He said there had been a sharp increase in reported cases of depression and suicides, which were symptomatic of mental health determination.
He explained: “The NDLEA has 26 treatment facilities across the country. In the past 20 months, over 12, 000 drug users have benefitted from brief intervention, counselling, treatment and rehabilitation in NDLEA facilities.”
Marwa said the agency was also tackling other pertinent issues in treatment.
According to Marwa statistics have shown that drug use disorder sufferers were disproportionately female due to stigmatisation and other social constraints.
“Earlier in June when the opportunity came to have members of the Nigeria Governors’ Wives Forum in Drug Use Prevention, Treatment and Care (DPTC) training, NDLEA and the State first ladies were able to reach landmark resolutions, one of which was the need for primary healthcare centres to extend counselling and treatment to those with drug use disorder as well as the necessity of having treatment centres exclusively for female patients.
Indeed, our society cannot afford to be nonchalant towards mental health issues. Already, it has entered into the stream of everyday conversation. You sometimes hear young people talk about maintaining their mental health.
“Whether or not they fully understand what that means is a different matter entirely. What we do know for a fact is that there has been a sharp increase in reported cases of depression and suicides, which are symptomatic of mental health determination,” he said
Quoting statistics by the World Health Organisation, (WHO), the NDLEA boss said before the advent of COVID-19, an estimated 970 million people around the world were living with mental disorders.
He explained that the figure translated to one in eight people of the 7.7 billion global population at the time.
“All around us today are aggravating conditions or factors of mental health degeneration, from economic depression to wars, from political oppression to social discrimination and from widespread insecurity to a self-destructive drug addiction lifestyle.
“No wonder that halfway into 2022, the world already has about one billion people living with mental health problems according to the World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said.
Marwa added that what was most disheartening was that one of seven sufferers was a young person.
The Chief Executive Officer of Intersect Consortium, Dr. Vincent Udenze, who spoke to THISDAY, expressed worry that the existing legal framework on mental health in country had become outdated and had outlived its usefulness.
He said there was need for the federal government to give the issue urgent attention it deserved by enacting a new law to ensure that Nigerians undergoing mental health challenges get necessary legal backing to secure proper treatment and welfare they needed.
He added that main objective of the conference was to create awareness and possibly get the attention of relevant authorities to do something about mental health and welfare of the affected persons in the country.
The Wife of Kaduna State Governor, and Chairperson of Northern Governors’ Wives Forum, Mrs. Hadiza E-Rufai spoke of the efforts they were making to provide facilities for the rehabilitation of drug abuse victims in their states.
She said that the forum has achieved a lot in the area of reducing drug use among the youths.