By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA), Kaduna State Command, has said that drug abuse is not a crime, but a sickness of the brain.
The Directorate of Drug Demand Reduction, NDLEA, Fatima Popoola disclosed this during an endurance trek to mark this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking organized by a Non-Governmental Organization, The Eye Opener Youth and Women Foundation in Kaduna.
According to her, the UN has declared this year’s theme as: “Health for Justice, Justice for Health” hence, the Directorate of Drug Demand Reduction is leaving no stone unturned to rid the youth, women and the community cum Nigeria of drug abuse.
“You don’t call them addicts again; but people who use drugs because nearly everyone across the globe have used one drug or the other. Even paracetamol or ampicillin people still misuse them; therefore, it is not only a person who smokes Indian hemp or Cannabis that is abusing drug.
“So this year, we’re talking about health for justice, and justice for health, and that means people addicted to drugs are not criminals, they have sickness of the brain because this group of people are being pushed by something to continue to use drugs and that thing is being controlled in their brain.
“That means such people need to be taken to the hospital for medical attention so that their brain would function like a normal human being. Therefore, people who abuse drugs are no longer to be criminalized, stigmatized and discriminated against people. We are all brothers and sisters and if we show love and care to ourselves then the society will be a better place for us to live in,” she said.
Earlier, the President and Founder of the foundation, Margret Julius, had expressed dismay on the increasing rate of drug abuse among the youth and women in the country.
She said that her organization has a vision of empowering life to fulfill purpose, saying that youthful exuberant life is not well secured in Nigeria.
According to her, if you want to know the future of a country, see what’s happening to the youth. She noted that the problems government is currently faced had to do with insecurity, pointing out that without the security of individual, the security of the community would not be guaranteed.
The Eye Opener boss who said the Foundation has put in place a number of programs to assist the community, youth and women realize their future dreams, such as “War Against Daasa” and “Save the Future Leaders”, called on Nigerians to look around them and work on just a person as addicts were not what people think they are.
However, she strongly advised against attempt to underestimate, condemn or discriminate people who used drug as doing so would be counterproductive and make matters worse.
“In fact people abusing drugs are the best people I love to work with. Although I am not in support of their habits, I hate the drugs but I love them.
“What we are doing in this NGO is to show love to persons who use drugs. We don’t condemn them; we rather go after the drugs because we know the addiction came about as a result of one problem leading to another.
“We go to the jungles, reach out to them with hands of love. Our fight is not against the youth or women because many women are into drugs, too. We reform and rehabilitate them because the youth are leaders of tomorrow,” she said.
The District Head of Makera Community, Alhaji Shehu Tijjani, who thanked organizers of the event, advocated for show of love and affection to people who abused drugs, to make them feel loved and want to renounce their lifestyle.
Speaking through the Village Head of Down Quarters, Alhaji Danjuma Musa; Tijjani said besides the establishment of Rehabilitation centres, he called on government to enact laws that would curb drug peddlers from plying their evil trade; and as well called on the society to support government’s effort in curbing the menace.
Also, Secretary of the group, Bariyat Ajodo while stressing that it is the civic responsibility of every citizen to correct wrongdoings in their communities by showing love and assisting in taking people who abuse drugs to where they could be help.
27 year old Jamilu Ibrahim, a school certificate holder said one of the greatest problems facing the youth is lack of what to do to keep body and soul together; pointing out that some of them abuse drugs just to keep hope alive.
He said that if the government wanted to stop drug abuse among the youth, they need to be engaged in something meaningful or trained in skills acquisition, saying “If we are engaged in something doing, we won’t stay idle at home troubling the society. We want government and well meaning Nigerians to support reform and give us jobs to do,” he said.
The Foundation, therefore, called for collaboration and support from spirited people to be able to touch more lives in reformation and rehabilitation, as they are required to be isolated and kept away from the public during this period.