By Dr. Akinmutola Abayomi
Substance abuse otherwise known as drug abuse, is the use of a drug in amounts or by methods which are harmful to the individual or others.
Debatably, we have over 190 million people abusing drugs in one way or the other worldwide. With this alarming figures each day around the world, one begins to wonder how did this generation get it all wrong. It is absolutely clear that this is a threat to nation building and there is the need for more awareness, and a heightened support from all and sundry in winning this fight. These efforts will help in preserving the integrity, pride and future of our youths who are constantly being exposed to the peril of drug abuse each day due to a number of unjustifiable reasons including; peer pressure, depression, societal demands, ignorance, a false sense of belongingness, and lack of parental care or control.
Often times, we hear news of young adolescents, and adults in their prime, mixing and compounding items to get euphoric and garner extra energy to deliver on certain self-imposed tasks. Though, they get the desired response from consuming these combined drugs and substances by leveraging on the side effects of the drugs in the combination obtained, but they unknowingly sustain a number of collateral damage, compromising their organs both in the short and long term. This is seen with the increasing incidences and prevalence of brain, kidney, liver and heart damages among both the young and old. Some long term effects of these harmful actions are transferred to innocent children yet unborn. This goes a long way to show that the damage caused by this menance is reproducible, transmissible and transcends through generations. Drug and substance abuse also increases the rate of criminal tendencies, unlawful activities, unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and diseases leading to death, and other vices in society.
Arguably, other persons are introduced into this misery by unknowingly consuming foods, cakes, ice creams, beverages, local herbs and local drinks laced with harmful substances. Perhaps, if you randomly perform a simple blood and urine screening on many innocent individuals, you could possibly discover drugs and substances of abuse in their system even if they haven't consciously abused any of these substances in the past. There is therefore need to make conscious efforts, be absolutely careful, and meticulous while consuming anything not prepared by yourself. You don't need to be overly suspicious, but always do proper visual inspection of any item you consume for any possible color change and also use your sense of olfaction in making preliminary judgement.
In combating this ugly incidence in the country and around the world, there is need for collaborative efforts involving individuals from all walks of life, coming together in concretizing more action plans in tackling this threat decisively.
The government at all levels across the world are making good efforts but should still continue to strengthen all agencies saddled with this responsibility by continuously giving them all they need in achieving greater results. The non-governmental organizations engaging in this fight should make judicious use of all the supports and aids they obtain from well-meaning donors in preventing this trend and in rehabilitating the victims of drug abuse, so they remain useful to society.
Our celebrities both at local and international levels should join forces in preaching against drug abuse both in words and in deeds especially through their movies, comedy shows, songs and other displays. Our entertainment and sport industry could also partake by organizing novelty matches, concerts, reality shows with the overall aim of advocating against drug abuse with handsome rewards to participants and viewers of such events.
Indigenous and multinational companies as part of their corporate social responsibility to their communities could also engage in sponsoring the fight against drug and substance abuse through their continuous advocacy, monthly/ quarterly/yearly paid advertorials and scholarships to well deserving youths thereby encouraging responsible use of drugs.
Parents remains the first teachers and role model of any child and have a pivotal role to play in preventing this evil occurrences by providing worthy examples for theirs kids to emulate, giving special attention, care and inculcating the right values to their children and wards amidst their busy work schedules.
Our schools and institutions of learning should start inputting education on self-confidence, refusal skills, dangers of drug and substance abuse in our educational curriculum as early as elementary levels and prioritize rewards for excellence. This will go a long way in securing the future of our children who are the future of tomorrow.
Traditional heads and rulers of communities could also help in advocating against drug abuse by adopting the carrot and stick approach in their communities to forestall this evil. They can also liaise with distinguished sons and daughters of the land having clout of influence to attract their support in positively influencing youths of such communities and tackling the scourge of drug abuse.
Also, our religious institutions can help by indoctrinating their followers against the dangers of drug and substance abuse in all their teachings and reward systems.
The medical community including Clinical pharmacists have been helping in this regard and still have more roles to play in providing the needed professional counsel to members of the public on the right use of drugs and other substances.
Dr Abayomi is a Nigerian Pharmacist and public health enthusiast .
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