With the primary goal of reducing cases of substance abuse in persons aged 10 to 25 using its advocacy platform, Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP), the MTN Foundation has collaborated with the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) to implement a 2-day training workshop for the European Union funded project, in response to drugs and related organized crime in Nigeria.


With over 30 attendees present, well trained facilitators educated each participant on the topic of substance abuse, introduced the concept of drugs, substance abuse, drug prevention, treatment and care (DPTC) and the situation of drug trafficking in Nigeria and globally.


The workshop was structured to take a 12-module course format in which facilitators gave a drug situation report using data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), collated from the year 2016 to 2017. The report highlighted the major routes taken by drug dealers in trafficking drugs to many parts of the world through West Africa from South America. It also listed some of the major trafficked drugs such as cannabis, ephedrine (a precursor chemical used in the production of methamphetamine)and opioid.


The modules also assessed the pattern of substance abuse in special populations in Nigeria. The training emphasized on special population groups like women, People Who Inject Drugs (PWIDs) and young drug users, marking them as the least likely to get help in cases of substance use disorder (SUD) due to social stigma, lack of proper education, their roles in society and a lack of specialized drug help centers, amongst others.


The facilitators stated that some existing laws (jail term and capital punishment for instance) have led to an increase in drug abuse despite concerted efforts to break the drug supply/demand chain. In this light, a representative from the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency

(NDLEA), Ameh Inalegwu, stressed on the need to use a balanced approach as harm reduction methods through education, treatment and social support programs to curb the malaise of substance abuse instead of applying scare tactics; a method which thus far has been ineffective.


Whilst harm reduction methods are in full effect at several levels of the NDLEA policies, Inalegwu noted that the NDLEA and concerned agencies face a peculiar challenge of pinpointing drug trafficking channels, especially in cases of cannabis farms and methamphetamine labs located in remote areas that are not easily accessible via land transportation. Some of these challenges also were highlighted in several documentaries screened at the training.


The workshop was mostly interactive involving Question & Answer sessions that saw facilitators engage the participants. To assess the level of impact the workshop had, participants were assigned theoretical tasks, during which they were expected to complete tasks assigned to them individually and as a group.


Video documentaries with subjects centered on drug trafficking, drug overdose, addiction and drug production were employed to drive home salient points highlighted in the presentations.

The documentaries highlighted the role socio-economic factors play in promoting drug trafficking and substance abuse culture amongst young people. It further revealed that scare tactics merely served as ‘dare’ factors for notorious drug traffickers who are willing to risk it all for pecuniary benefits. In fact, the higher the measure placed to barricade entry of such drugs, the more profitable it becomes for the dealer, hence the motivation.


The 2-day workshop came to an end with participants receiving certification that will aid them to act in their capacity to fight against drug trafficking and substance abuse through advocacy.


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Together, we can end substance abuse #ASAP.