The relevant authorities need to devote more attention to curbing the growing use of hard drugs
The rate at which married women are getting hooked on substance abuse has become very worrisome. Indeed, the Sokoto State Command of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is crying out loud. Allegedly based on some phantom claims that it would enhance their sexual appetite, these women take cough syrups that contain codeine which, unknown to them, is harmful to their health.
This is a warning that should be taken seriously by the authorities, especially at a time that hard drugs, ranging from cannabis–often called Indian hemp – to cocaine, heroin and amphetamines are increasingly available on the street and are being abused by both the young and the old.
While the Sokoto Command of the NDLEA should be commended both for the observation and the public alert, nobody should imagine that it is a problem restricted to the state. This is a national social problem that has to be addressed as heroin and amphetamine-type stimulants and over-the-counter drugs are being increasingly abused across the country today.
Not too long ago, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) called for the strengthening of legislations and an aggressive public education in the war against illicit drugs in Nigeria. This followed a report that about 1.5 million cocaine users are in West and Central Africa while cannabis has maintained its criminal place as the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused substance within the sub-region.
Even so, there are some observable trends. Nigeria is one of the largest growers of cannabis. Hectares of cannabis plantations have been discovered in Edo and some areas in the South West, particularly Osun State where NDLEA reportedly destroyed a forest reserve of the weed in 2009. And because the weed is grown locally, it is easily available, cheap and therefore the most abused of the illegal drugs in the country. That perhaps explains why about eight per cent of the population reportedly abuses the substance that, in the past, used to be smoked in dark street corners and hide-outs.
Today, many young men and women openly wrap the substance, also called “pot,” and puff away, anywhere – at car wash spots, in public parks, on the streets, to get “stoned” and sometimes with even law enforcement agents looking away. Cocaine, heroin and amphetamines and ecstacy, are also available at the asking and many are increasingly dependent and hooked.
Mr. Femi Ajayi, the former Director- General of NDLEA, once attested to the pervasiveness of these mind-blowing drugs, some with evidence of increasing the risk of psychotic illness: “We tend to pretend that we are only a transit country, not drug-using country. But that is not true. You have so much cannabis everywhere. Same goes for heroine and others, so the problem is here.”
Now that married women are getting involved in the habit of substance abuse, the authorities have to take bolder steps to fight the scourge that is already creating social problems in many homes across the country. While statistics may be hard to come by, it stands to reason that there is a correlation between the abuse of drugs and most of the crimes that are now prevalent in the country today.
Indeed, many of the audacious crimes including vicious robberies and murders, raiding of banks, prisons, churches and kidnappings, are said to be aided by drugs. Many homes, families, relationships and careers have been shattered by those who find it difficult to wean themselves of the stuff. That is why it is now incumbent on critical stakeholders to begin to fashion how to curb the growing abuse that has now extended even to married women.