A Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Vincent Udenze, has charged members of the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs) to drive the formulation of policies to regulate the dispensing of ethical drugs to youths at the community level.
Udenze, who is the MD/CEO of Intersect Consortium, gave the charge at the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2023, a virtual programme organised by the ALPs leadership.
The webinar featured other discussants like Pharm. (Dr) Scholastica Lan, ALPs national chairman; Dr Monica Eimunjeze, technical adviser, ALPs; Pharm. (Mrs) Victoria Ukwu, immediate past chairman, ALPs; and Pharm. Chinwe Effiong, mental health pharmacist, and moderator of the programme.
Speaking on the theme of the programme,, “People first: Stop stigma, and discrimination, strengthen prevention”, the psychiatrist emphasised the importance of regulation in the drug abuse scourge in the country, averring that if lady pharmacists could control the sales of prescription drugs to youths in their pharmacies, it will assist in curbing the menace.
He also warned mothers to desist from being enablers of wrong behaviours in children, while admitting that it is possible to get addicts back on track after treatment.
“We must understand that when people have treatment, they get better, while some relapse. However, several factors can lead to relapse, depending on what led to the addiction, for instance, rape. Again, when it comes to treatment and relapse, it is an individualistic thing,” he explained.
The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, is marked on 26 June every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving a world free of drug abuse.
The aim of this year’s campaign, according to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, is to raise awareness about the importance of treating people who use drugs with respect and empathy; providing evidence-based, voluntary services for all; offering alternatives to punishment; prioritising prevention; and leading with compassion.
The campaign also aims to combat stigma and discrimination against people who use drugs by promoting language and attitudes that are respectful and non-judgmental.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in his message on this year’s celebration, decried the prevalence of drug abuse and its impacts on peoples’ health, saying tens of millions of people suffer from drug-use disorders, with less than one-fifth having access to treatment. Drug users are doubly victimised, he said, first by the harmful effects of the drugs themselves, and second by the stigma and discrimination they face.
He thus called for the implementation of drug abuse policies in order to crack down on traffickers and re-allocating resources to prevention, treatment and harm-reduction measures.
The panellists also admonished parents on the need to spend quality time with their children, saying this will aid early detection of drug and substance abuse symptoms in the youngsters.
They also warned parents to desist from having excessive trust in their wards, without spending time to be familiar with their daily routines. This is in correlation with a report by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime in Nigeria, which indicates that 14.4 per cent (14.3 million) of people aged between 15 and 64 years abuse drugs.
Speaking on strengthening prevention strategies on drug abuse during the webinar, ALPs national chairman, Pharm. (Dr) Scholastica Lan, stressed the importance of the home front for early detection of drug abuse symptoms, which requires parents’ deliberate engagement with their youths at home.
She said, “Strengthening prevention of drug abuse has a lot of strategies, as it starts from the home, then schools and the larger society. It also demands parents to stop living in denial of their children’s activities, as this emboldens the children in the act.
“Parents should spend time with their children, because this will enhance easy identification of the child whether he or she is an addict or not. Parents can also search their children’s personal effects as security checks to keep them on their toes.”
Lan, who asserted that it is easy to identify an addict, mentioned some of the signs of drug abuse in children to include bulging eye balls, bullying of siblings, flagrant disregard for parents, late night keeping, among others.
Other members of the panel, who spoke at the webinar were Dr Vincent Udenze, a consultant psychiatrist and MD/CEO of Intersect Consortium; Dr Monica Eimunjeze, technical adviser, ALPs; Pharm. (Mrs) Victoria Ukwu, immediate past chairman, ALPs; and Pharm. Chinwe Effiong, mental health pharmacist, and moderator of the programme.
The discussants reiterated their commitment to continue with the various campaigns to create awareness and also demand that pharmacists practice within regulations.