Worried by the rising cases of lunacy and crime as a result of drug abuse, a Non Governmental Organization, Lobi Community Dialogue Initiative, LCDI organized a one-day sensitization workshop for key stakeholders in Benue towards finding lasting solutions to the menace.
The workshop was put together in conjunction with the Department of Psychiatry, Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, Makurdi.
A psychiatrist with the hospital, Dr. Akinjola Oyedele, speaking at the event said the problem of drug abuse was destructive not only to the family but to the society at large as it leads to horrible consequences including crime and death.
Oyedele who presented a paper titled “Consequences of Drug Abuse,” said it may be difficult to have a drug free society but charged everyone to work hard to limit the effects of drug abuse in the country.
Dr Amedu Michael, a Consultant Psychiatrist with the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Makurdi, speaking on, “A Drug Free Society: Myth or Reality”, said the public should be aware of the escalation of substance use in the society.
He said parents should begin to be more aware of what their children do so that they can discover the problem early because that was the easiest time to curb it.
Amedu also called for collaboration between agencies, media, and movie industries among others saying the task of curbing the problems of substance use in the society was a huge one.
He said a lot of progress had been made in Benue state by civil societies, government and the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, UNODC, in sensitizing the youths adding, “it must be a continuous fight and there is a lot of advocacy that it should go into the curriculum of schools for students to hear it again and again.”
Acknowledging that depression was the commonest cause of suicide the Psychiatrist noted that those who commit suicide were aided by the use of drugs because it makes it easier for them.
“The use of drugs facilitates the process of committing of suicide. It gives them courage. It changes their perception, they’re no longer afraid, their sense of judgement as to the consequences of taking their lives is no longer considered.
He urged people to take advantage of available lifelines to seek help with professional psychologists, psychiatrists and doctors to sort out their problems rather than resorting to drugs.
On his part, a Professor of Law with the Benue State University, Makurdi, Prof. Peter Ocheme, while presenting a paper titled, “1958 Lunacy Act: Punitive or Rehabilitative, called for preventive measures to avoid getting to a point of abusing the drugs and the consequential results of mental health leading to lunacy.
He said from the legal perspective, there was no punishment for being a lunatic adding that once it comes to lunacy, the law will rather come to the aide of the person classified as a lunatic or insane and cannot impose any further responsibility because he is a person of diminished responsibility.
Ocheme also said the law does not talk about drug abuse but would rather punish the circumstances that bring about the ill health like cultivation of hard drugs, carriages, sale and regulation of licenses for dealers among others.
According to him, the law does not prohibit use of drugs but will prefer a situation where the drug was used without abuse. He therefore called on government to step up implementation of stipulated laws on drugs prohibition just as he called on the Nigerian populace to consult with professionals before taking any drug and ensure they do not abuse them for their good and the good of the society.
Meanwhile, Wife of the Benue State Governor, Dr Eunice Ortom, has commended the NGO, LCDI, for the event saying her pet project, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation is currently rehabilitating some youths who have abused drugs.
Mrs Ortom who was represented by Dr Comfort Abah, lamented that Benue being an agrarian state was losing huge manpower to drugs and called all hands on deck to fight the menace.
The Commissioner of police, Police in Benue State, CP Omololu Bishi described the growing population of youths abusing drugs in the country as worrisome saying the Inspector General of Police had activated the Narcotic Unit of the force to nip the menace in the bud.
Bishi who was represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Criminal Investigation, DCP Dominic Effiong said most crimes committed in Benue were drug related and the police are taking proactive step to nip it in the bud.
Earlier, the coordinator, of the group, Augustine Abel Ochai expressed worries over the rate of drug abuse saying drug was the leading cause of most crimes in the country.
Participants who spoke to our correspondent expressed joy for the sensitization, commended the organizers and urged government to partner with the NGO to take the sensitization to the grassroots.