The perilous surge in indiscriminate drug abuse among our nation’s youth has reached alarming and dangerous proportions. From bustling cities to serene villages, we are witnessing an increasing prevalence of drug usage across all segments of our youth population.

It is no longer uncommon to encounter clusters of young individuals early in the morning, congregating around vendors selling locally brewed alcoholic drinks, such as ‘Shepe,’ ‘Paragga,’ and ‘Kainkain.’

Drug abuse

Today’s youth are more openly engaged in the consumption of various substances, including mixtures, smoking, and powdered drugs. At parties, concerts, and social gatherings, the unchecked use of drugs has become a disturbing norm. Hotels, gardens, lounges, and recreational venues have become hotspots for such behavior, with many establishments displaying signs cautioning patrons against drug use on their premises.

This menacing trend knows no boundaries of gender, class, or societal groups. The elite, students, technicians, and even the children of affluent families are all ensnared in this destructive habit.

What unites these drug users is their emotional instability and a flagrant disregard for societal rules and regulations. Wherever they congregate, a volatile atmosphere prevails, susceptible to chaos, lawlessness, and disorder.

In cities, concerts are marred by incidents of rape, extortion, robbery, burglary, and sometimes, a complete breakdown of law and order.

Drug addiction

Our schools, from secondary to tertiary institutions, have been infiltrated by drug abuse, often intertwined with cultism and hooliganism. This dire situation necessitates immediate action by the government, security agencies, parents, school authorities, religious and traditional leaders, and society at large.

It is a frequent sight to behold destitute youths with psychological and neuropsychiatric issues wandering our streets. An international agency has even reported that our country is generating a youth population suffering from mental health problems due to rampant drug abuse, earning us an unwarranted reputation as a drug-infested nation.

In the past, drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin were the primary culprits. Today, the array of substances has expanded exponentially, with youths concocting mixtures that defy science and established research. Consequently, the danger has become far graver and beyond imagination.

The government, too, bears a significant share of blame. Our educational system has fallen below acceptable standards, plagued by frequent strikes by university lecturers and staff that leave students idle at home and vulnerable to vices.

The removal of moral instruction from school curriculums, the lack of adequate teaching aids and staff, and the failure to provide sufficient welfare packages to encourage qualified teachers have all exposed our youth to social vices and crimes.

The broader society and parents are also culpable as family values have eroded, and in some homes, young individuals have become the primary breadwinners. Parents often do not question the source of their children’s income, material possessions, and activities.

There are several other factors that require attention. The youth are constantly bombarded with distorted displays of wealth, with star musicians openly using drugs on stage and in music videos, influencing the impressionable minds of youths who regard them as role models.

Our nation is now grappling with a dire and profoundly damaging situation. If our youth, often referred to as the leaders of tomorrow, are losing their way to drug addiction, it begs the question: what does the future hold for our country?

Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has called upon the Federal government to declare a state of emergency on drug abuse in the country.
While this is a commendable step, the real solution necessitates a holistic overhaul of our system, family values, educational standards, religious teachings, and societal influences.

The government must consider creating a Ministry of Family Values, establishing robust vocational centers, rehabilitation facilities, and implementing stringent measures to prosecute and rehabilitate public drug users, enabling their reintegration into society. The situation demands unwavering dedication and a collective effort to break free from the grip of this epidemic and secure a brighter future for our youth and our nation.

By Olaseni O. Egbeyemi (19th October 2023)

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