NDLEA decries alarming use of drugs in primary schools



Director of Drug Demand Reduction, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Baba Hussani, has lamented the high level of drug use among primary school pupils in the country.

Speaking at the opening of Synapse Services in Lagos recently, Hussani said though drug use was a problem with youths, it was most unfortunate that its flippant use had crept into primary schools.

This, he attributed to factors such as peer pressure, experimentation with drugs and negligence among some parents, who send their children on drug errands not minding the effect of their ward’s exposure to drugs.

Baba explained that occurrences of drug use are most prevalent in the secondary schools and universities, “but it has become a more serious concern to us with the rise in primary school level.”

He noted that drugs are now been peddled around school environments and this has created more enabling environment for its purchase and use.

Hussani advised that school authorities should fortify their facilities to prevent people coming in with drugs and selling drug around school environments.

He, however, stressed that it was the NDLEA’s duty to arrest such drug peddlers, “but it is also the duties of both teachers and parents to put those children right because their role in this fight is vital.”

He disclosed that, NDLEA intends to roll out a programme for parents in the next few months to educate and counsel them toward drug use, and how to educate their wards at home.

He told journalist that the number of drug abuse cases were alarming, so centres like Synapse Services who provide private mental health services are playing a complementary role to the agency’s duties.

Hussani said: “NDLEA receives rehabilitation request on regular basis, but after counseling services, we refer them to registered rehabilitation centers though not all of them are registered with us as it is mandated.”

“NDLEA is in synergy with activities that goes on in the various registered centers under our command, so we can facilitate more referrals,” he added.

In her welcome address, the Chairman of Synapse Services, Ammuna Lawan, stressed that apart from stigma, low funding had put private mental health services to the back burner in Nigeria.

Lawan reiterated that mental health disorders are most common with the so-called executive people who are ignorant and do not know where to seek help, hence the motivation behind the opening of such a facility.

Also speaking at the event was Medical Director, Synapse Services, Dr. Vincent Udenze, who pointed out that mental health in Nigeria is a big problem, citing stigma and lack of awareness as a major challenges.
These challenges he said have made it difficult for people to identify symptoms.

Udenze explained that people do not seek help because unlike other areas of health, there are few private mental health facilities they can walk into and feel confidence and trust in the system.

According to him, suicides are rampant in the country largely because of depression, but such incidences are not recorded because they are taken for granted.

Udenze, who is also a consultant psychiatrist noted; “mental health and drug problems now requires quite a holistic team to take multidisciplinary decisions to empower and educate patients and their families.”

Because government he said would never be able to do enough since they do not have infinite resources, “therefore the third sector organizations, private individuals should work together to champion the course of mental health in the country.

“We need to de stigmatize mental health and drug related issues, so people can actually seek help because it is a big problem,” Udenze expressed.

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