U.S. Embassy Information Officer Russell Brooks speaking at the opening of Abuja International Film Festival 2016

Societal, parental neglect and negative peer influence have been described as major factors that promote substance abuse among youths, hence all hands must be on deck to curb the spread.

The Public Affairs Officer, U.S Consular General, Lagos, Russell Brooks, made these comments at a 9-Day ‘National Training of Trainers on the School Based Track of the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) for Substance Use Disorders in Nigeria’ held at Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

According to Brooks, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the programme, substance abuse is a global public health challenge and research shows that 40.3 million Nigerians between the ages of 16-64 years are victims of substance abuse.

“If we are concerned about the growth of Africa, then we must promote policies and programs that will reduce substance abuse in Nigeria, which is said to be the most popular country in the continent,” he said.

In his welcome address, the National Coordinator, Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) and Executive Director, Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA), Dr. Martin Agwogie, said the 9-Day Training is coming after six months of the first programme held in January this year.

“Since the first training of trainers, six batches of practitioners’ training have been conducted with a total of 153 practitioners imparted in evidence based substance abuse prevention in Nigeria. Our target is to train 2,000 practitioners in this area in the next one year,” said Agwogie

The training, according to a member, Drug Advisory Program of Colombo Plan, Kenya, Susan Mawa, is in two series: the Coordinating series and the implementing series; Nigeria she revealed is said to be in the implementing series and this is the second round to be held.

Speaking on steps taken by the federal government to ensure a drug free society, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sunny Echonor, who was represented by the Director, Basic and Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Lami Amodu, said government is no doubt concerned about the effect of substance abuse among youths hence it has taken the bull by the horn by partnering with NGOs, CSOs and development partners in curbing it.

The initiative according to the Director, Pharmaceutical Service, Lagos State Ministry of Health and Chairperson Lagos State Drug Controlled Committee, Dr. Moyosore Adejumo, is timely and will help in stemming the tide of substance abuse among young ones.

Participants at the training include lecturers, clinicians in the area of medicine, psychology and guidance counselling, religious organisations, non-governmental organisations, civil societies, among others.

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