Advocacy groups, addiction expert and students have suggested better measures to curb the increasing rate of drug abuse among students in higher institutions in Nigeria, describing the punitive measures being used by the institutions as ineffective.
The recommendations were made at the just concluded Drug Policy Summit, organised by the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP Nigeria) yesterday at the University of Ibadan.
A drug policy expert and the National President of SSDP Nigeria, Comrade Olufemi Bashorun, who has championed many sensitization programmes on drug use and abuse across many campuses in Nigeria, emphasised that expulsion and suspension currently being used as anti drug mechanisms in higher institutions had escalated the menace rather than curbing it.
Comrade Bashorun however suggested that the knowledge to make students make better choices should be passed across to them, adding that with the support of friends, family and institutions, drug addiction can be cured.
“We need to understand that when you wage war against drug users, people will device other means to abuse drugs.
“We need to understand the value of knowledge. I am not saying knowledge will necessarily solve drug abuse but it will help people make better choices about drug abuse”, he concluded.
Similarly, the National Director of Administration, Knowledge Over Drug Abuse (KODA), Comrade Faozy Gazaly, who advocated non-strictal laws, suggested that “students should be taught the consequences of using this drug in class and even make it a topic to be studied in a course like Citizenship Education”
A social worker and certified addiction treatment specialist, Miss Omolade Temitayo Obisesan described drug addiction as a chronic relapsing brain disease like diabetes, hypertension, stating that “getting out of addiction is not an easy road to walk for drug addicts and in every person that abuse drugs and alcohol, there is always an underlying issues which is best known to them”
She therefore suggested that through love and care, drug addicts can be helped to overcome the addiction and every institution should have a rehabilitation centre where the students will receive professional help and support.
“A drop in center or a rehabilitation center will encourage a drug and alcohol user to have a reformation of life and that is where soberity comes in… Knowing there is someone, somewhere somehow they can turn to, someone that actually cares for their well-being and health”, she stated.
A communication specialist and early career researcher on drug related communication, Miss Joy Adigwe noted that strictal laws could not curb drug abuse or addiction because ” they do not actually work”
She revealed that students in institutions where they are forced to go for drug test and have cameras installed in hostels, still find means to abuse drugs.
She suggested that “there is a place for communication in curbing drug abuse. There is need for using strategic communication methods that can relate with the students. Come to the students from the place they can relate with you, use emotional appeal and most importantly come from a place of passion and talent and use those in structuring your message”.
Mr Alaka Hassan Olayemi, from Obafemi Awolowo University, called for proper orientation and using evidence-based approach to educate people about drugs while Mr Tair Olowolagba from University of Ibadan called for more sensitisation on how to help addicted students get out of their addiction.
Other students at summit also called for friendly and humane policies to deal with drug use and abuse among students.