Expert Calls for Early Education on Drug Abuse to Prevent Children's Exposure

Expert Calls for Early Education on Drug Abuse to Prevent Children’s Exposure

As the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is marked on June 26, the President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, Professor Taiwo Obindo, emphasizes the need for awareness and education on drug abuse to start from primary school level. This, he says, will prevent early exposure to substance use and subsequent mental health crises.

Obindo warns that early drug use significantly affects the brain, making treatment more challenging. He notes that over 80% of people needing mental healthcare in Nigeria cannot access it due to rising costs. The psychiatrist stresses that prevention is key, and early intervention is crucial to prevent drug use addiction and disorder.

The World Health Organisation reports that 970 million people globally lived with a mental disorder in 2019, with anxiety and depression being the most common. In Nigeria, 14.4% of people aged 15-64 years use drugs, with a predicted 40% increase in drug use in Africa by 2030.

Obindo calls for constant awareness drives and education of young children on the dangers of illicit substance use. He also urges the establishment of more rehabilitation centers and the referral of substance users to these centers instead of prison yards. The Federal Ministry of Health is also encouraged to establish Departments of Mental Health Services to monitor and accredit rehabilitation centers.

By investing in prevention and education, Nigeria can reduce the burden of mental health crises and substance use disorders.