Sahara Group dedicates February to tackle substance abuse

Leading energy conglomerate, Sahara Group, is dedicating the month of February to a campaign against substance abuse which claims the lives of 11.8 million each year, that is more than the number of deaths from all cancers.

Tagged #CleanLoveFeb, the focus of the campaign is to sensitize the public, particularly young people, to the dangers of substance abuse.

The campaign will involve various activities across Sahara Group’s locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. In 2018, Sahara Group launched an initiative to shift the focus of Valentine’s Day from a one-day event to a month-long activity aimed at taking the celebration of love to the level of giving more attention to serious global issues.

According to Bethel Obioma, Head, Corporate Communications, Sahara Group, the initiative commenced with the “GreenLove” campaign in February 2018.

The focus then was on safeguarding the well-being of the planet earth that is home to almost 8 billion people.

“In 2019 we celebrated #PinkLove to increase cancer awareness. This February, Sahara Group is spreading “#CleanLoveFeb” all around the world, hoping that the message will connect with people caught in the web of substance abuse and above all, deliver an overwhelming zero tolerance narrative that will make living and staying clean a way of life for everyone,” he said.

Obioma said the energy giant will be working with Dr. Tunde Fadipe, a psychiatrist, to engage various stakeholders on the campaign and undertake school activations such as open conversations, essay and chess competitions.

Other activities include awareness walks, press and radio interviews as well as visits to rehabilitation centres.

“For us at Sahara Group, the #CleanLoveFeb campaign also represents a critical vehicle for beaming the searchlight on mental health issues that often emerge from substance abuse. We invite everyone to join us in promoting this noble cause by sharing our posts on the social media to ensure that the #CleanLove message gets to much more people, especially, young and impressionable individuals,” he added.

Speaking on the partnership with Sahara Group, Fadipe described Sahara’s global campaign against substance abuse as “timely and exemplary, seeing that we are all affected as relatives, friends, colleagues, teachers, or neighbour and the scourge is a major health concern all over the world.”

Noting that the impact of psychoactive substance abuse on young people had become a growing source of concern for mental health practitioners, Fadipe canvassed the declaration of a state of emergency to address the menace. “What we have in our hands is a monster with huge forensic and socioeconomic implications. Seeing that prevention will always be better than cure, we need more sustained awareness initiatives like Sahara Group’s #CleanLoveFeb campaign. All hands need to be on deck to tackle this menace and I am excited to be a part of this commendable campaign,” he declared.

Fadipe said statistics sourced from the United Nations office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) show that up to 270 million people, aged 15 – 64 years use psychoactive substances in a year and up to 13 percent of these people abuse them globally.

“Substance abuse does not discriminate as it affects people irrespective of age, gender, culture or socioeconomic status. It is linked with untoward effects on both the individual and society with corrosive effects on health, safety, wellbeing and productivity,” he stated.

A seasoned psychiatrist, Dr. Fadipe is currently a consultant psychiatrist (addiction, consultation-liaison services) at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital where he is involved in rendering clinical service, teaching and research.

In the last few years, his practice and research have focused on general adult psychiatry, addiction, psychosocial issues among underserved populations, and mental health advocacy.

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