The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital (FNPHY), Yaba, Lagos, has taken mental health education to the Ojuelegba Motor Park, notorious for drug abuse in the state.
The education was in commemoration of the International War Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Day (IWADAITD) held annually on June 26.
The President of the association, Dr Raliat Akerele, said at the event that the association chose the park to educate people on the dangers of drug abuse because it reportedly harboured people who abused drugs.
The theme for the 2018 IWADAITD was: “Listening to Children and Youths is the First Step to Help Them Grow Healthy and Safe’’.
Akerele said: “Anecdotal reports from passers-by and people boarding buses at the park show that a lot of drivers and conductors take and abuse substances.
“We feel it is a good ground to educate people about the effects and where they can get help.
“Based on my assessment, a lot of them are using substances; some of them have it in their possession and many of them are not aware of the harm that substances do to them.
“Many of them also do not believe that substance abuse can lead to mental illness, as they say that those who are suffering from mental illness are different.’’
The president identified affordability, accessibility and availability as factors contributing to abuse of substances at such a park.
According to her, Federal Government’s ban on the importation of Codeine and Tramadol is not enough to stop substance abuse.
She said that the government would need to tackle drug abuse at every stage of the distribution chain and also ensure that people selling substances should have a licence.
“If everyone has a licence, and drugs not cheap, it is not everybody who will be able to sell the substances; the price will be regulated, then it will not be that affordable anymore.
“Also, if people are licensed, they will want to check the identities of those who come to buy the substances.
“Why do people use these drugs? These are analgesics that are used for pains; we can have alternative pain medications that are not addictive.
“Now that the government has banned the substances, the production and prices will increase because they will become scarce,’’ she said.
The psychiatrist expressed worry that some users could resort to crime in a desperate search for the scarce substances.
The Vice-President, ARD, FNPHY, Dr Moruf Mustapha, said that there had been significant increase in the use of multi-psychoactive substances among Nigerians in the past 12 months.
According to him, motor parks are among the places people congregate including bus drivers, conductors, and jobless people to use the substances.
“We find it very important, as part of our community outreach, to reach out to our co-citizens and educate them on the hazards of drug abuse.
“We pointed out the dangers to some of them and engaged more rational ones among them; we hope to keep doing this.
“Continuity of education is very important when meeting these people; we have to keep emphasising and re-emphasising the dangers of drug abuse.
“The next steps are to make them to come for treatment, rehabilitate those who need it and attain harm reduction in the community; we aim to achieve this in a big scale,“ Mustapha said.