The use of drugs, which may be legally approved – such as alcohol and some medications; or illegal such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine and so on, for recreational purposes – to feel good, or high, is termed drug abuse.
Unfortunately, it is a ticking time bomb that affects everyone of us in many more ways than one. In commemoration of the international day for drug abuse prevention (June 26th), we highlight the societal impact of drug abuse and why it is imperative that it is recognized as an emergency. The multifaceted implications of the rising prevalence of drug abuse in our society are briefly highlighted below.
Security: Drug abuse emboldens criminals to take risks and commit atrocities. Furthermore, most of these individuals who engage in crime have expensive drug habits which they need to steal or engage in crime to be able to sustain. Thus, with increasing drug use in our cities and communities, we all become potential targets for those who are desperate to earn money in order to buy their drugs. It is therefore, not a surprise that crime rates usually skyrocket with increasing rates of drug abuse in any community. Therefore, it is a security risk for drug abuse to rise to alarming proportions and for the government and society not to be alert to the security dangers that are associated with it.
Family: High rates of drug abuse usually result in marital problems as the person involved may run into debt and become incapable of meeting financial responsibilities. A man with alcohol problems for example, may be drinking on credit at the beer joint. Such a man will immediately go there to settle his debts, once he gets his salary, as well as paying a deposit for the coming month. Whatever is left thereafter, is what he then takes home for his wife and children. This is a catalyst for domestic violence and child abuse/neglect, as the wife is likely to complain, resulting in marital discord or divorce. The children in such scenarios, usually are the worst hit, as they may have to drop out of school or lack adequate care and attention. Young adults with drug habits also frequently place enormous emotional strain on their parents and siblings.
Education and productivity: Young people who engage in drug abuse are likely to have poor academic performance or engage in violence and fights thus running into trouble with the school authorities. They may be suspended or eventually expelled from school. This leads to avoidable under-achievement and frustration. Those who are already working, may receive queries for poor performance and frequent lateness which may result in dismissal. Or have their integrity called into question over drug abuse habits.
Death and injuries: Drunk driving and use of drugs often result in road traffic accidents, with attendant injuries and deaths. Yet all sorts of alcoholic drinks and drugs are sold at every motor park across the country. Most of the drivers and conductors – especially those who undertake long distance journeys are the usual customers. This is a clear and present danger to all the passengers who commute across the length and breadth of this country daily. This situation calls for urgent attention if we are truly a nation that places a premium on the safety of the lives of our citizens.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as well as the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) should partner with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to ensure that they appreciate the magnitude of the risks and why it is not in their enlightened self-interest to sustain such drug use practices. Diligent enforcement of the laws with punitive measures can be brought to bear, after the initial engagement and advocacy efforts.
Anecdotal feedback, appear to suggest that in some areas and states, the NURTW are in cahoots with the political leaders and are therefore deemed untouchable. Such reports are truly veryunfortunate. It is therefore our collective responsibility, as civil society and citizens, to ensure that the necessary agencies are encouraged to do their jobs and clear our motor parks of these hazards to public safety on our highways.
It really does not matter if you use a personal car and you always never exceed 100km per hour while travelling, with meticulous use of seat belts and other safety precautions. Because another driver who is drunk or high on drugs can veer off his/her lane and smash into your car. Thus, we all need to be proactive in this regard. Our lives – or those of our loved ones may depend on it.
Conclusion: In the matter of drug abuse, the global best practice and most effective treatment is prevention. Don’t even go near it. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Tribune Article for the column “Your Mental Health & You”
Thursday, 8th July 2021