The Director General of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr. Femi Ajayi at the weekend launched the first drug-free clinic at the government house annex Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital. The concept of a drug free clinic according to the Agency is meant to take anti-drug abuse counselling to individuals and families having drug abuse problem. The DG noted that the NDLEA’s mandate goes beyond the arrest of drug dealers, seizure of illicit drugs and prosecution of offenders. The drug war he noted is being fought on two fronts, reducing the supply of drugs into the society as well as reducing the demand for the drugs.
According to Femi, “more importantly, we recognise that drug users are victims that need help. We are therefore interested in helping the families and victims to overcome the challenges of being involved in drug abuse. By doing so, we can save the society from the negative implications of drug abuse such as the distortion of the economy, loss of valuable manpower either by way of death or reduced mental and physical capabilities and crime”.
The clinic designed to bridge anti-drug abuse counselling gap in the society had several counsellors and professionals who were consulting with participants who needed help for themselves or family members. The Agency promised to conduct drug-free clinics in all local government area of the State thus spreading the service to the grassroots.
The NDLEA DG thanked the Akwa Ibom State Command for the wonderful initiative of the drug-free clinic and urged members of the public to buy into the programme. “I am very happy with the Akwa Ibom State Command for this Initiative. This will enable the Agency reach out to those who are either afraid or ignorant of walking into NDLEA offices for help. I urge all those who have challenges and those who have made the mistake of using illicit drugs to take full advantage of these clinics” Femi urged.
The NDLEA State commander in Akwa Ibom, Barrister Josephine Ruth Obi in her welcome address noted that the problem of drug abuse can be prevented if people know what to do. The commander pointed out that “many people are often at a loss as to what to do when they are faced with the reality of loved ones getting involved in drugs”. She appealed to the public to shun denial even when it is obvious that they have drug abuse problem and seek help immediately before the situation degenerates.
The clinic featured Professor Isidore Obot a scientist in the Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, World Health Organisation (WHO) as the guest lecturer. In his lecture titled, The Consequences of Drug Abuse In Nigeria, Professor Obot outlined some reasons why people abuse drugs as well as the consequences of drug abuse. In his words, “drug use by parents or siblings, associating with peers who use drugs, lack of drug policy by schools and availability of drugs are some reasons why people use drugs. People must watch out for warning signs of drug use because of the individual and community health problems, crime and violence associated with drug abuse and addiction”.
Head, Public Affairs