The Lagos State Government has once again warned young adults, particularly teenagers and youths, against negative peer pressure that could lead them to indulge in drug and substance abuse and illicit trafficking activities.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, who gave this warning recently at a School Awareness and Sensitisation programme to commemorate the Y2023 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Lagos, noted that peer pressure has been linked to drug and substance abuse, misuse, addiction and illicit trafficking, especially amongst teenagers and youths.
Speaking through the Director, Pharmaceutical Services, Mrs. Oyebisi Omolanbe, at the programme held at the Agidingbi Senior Secondary School in Ikeja, Ogboye explained that people particularly teenagers and youths may be obligated to use and abuse drugs and substances if their peers are doing it.
“Peers play a significant role in our lives, especially in late childhood and adolescence, however, negative peer pressure with regards to misuse and abuse of drugs and substances as well as trafficking of the same comes with a lot of burden and negative consequences”, he said.
Speaking further at the event which was organised by Lagos State Interministerial Drug Abuse Control Committee, Ogboye posited that young people must be equipped with skills and the ability to take their minds off drugs and stand up to say NO to peers who may want to lure them into drug and substance abuse.
“We are here to sensitise, educate and empower young minds with information that will help them make the right choices. Knowledge, they say, is power, so having the right information about the abuse of drugs and substances and how to stay clear of it cannot be overemphasised.
“Drug and substance abuse can affect every aspect of a child’s life and also have a negative effect on society. So the earlier we nip it in the bud, the better for our youths and the society”, he said.
Ogboye noted that the Y2023 United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking commemorative theme: “People First: Stop Stigma And Discrimination, Strengthening Prevention”, is well thought out.
He added that it is important that the mental health of citizens is prioritised, stressing that the fight against the abuse of drugs is a collective responsibility of everyone.
“So this year’s theme is people-centered. Addicts and people who abuse drugs and substances should not be treated as criminals but treated as patients. We should see them as being ill. The way you treat any other patient is the way they should be treated. But for the suppliers, the distributors, they should be treated as criminals”, Ogboye said.
The Permanent Secretary stated that the awareness programme organised for the school children has created an opportunity to share facts on the dangers of drug abuse and also equip them with basic skills to say no to drug abuse.
He, however, tasked all stakeholders to continue to evolve strategies targeting youths and young adults and implement well-thought-out interventions to achieve the required developmental goals in a drug abuse-free society.
Dr. Oluseyi Odewale, who was the facilitator at the event, explained that the abuse of substances can mess up the brain of a young person and lead to dependency as the brain of a young person is not fully developed and can affect the place of judgment which will have a negative impact on how the child relates in the society.
“The brains of young people are still developing. And any attempt to introduce any substance to that developing brain, will mess it up and the last place to develop is the place of judgment, which is the place of executive functions such as memory, learning, decision-making, ability to weigh down time”, she said.
She, however, urged the students to carefully select their friends to avoid negative peer pressure that could lead to drug abuse and addiction.
A representative of Pam Pharmaceutical Limited, Joseph Oluwaseun, who collaborated with the state government in the celebration of the Y2023 World Drug Abuse Day, commended the State Government for running an all-inclusive system of governance with the private sector.
He assured that Pam Pharmaceutical will continue to engage in productive collaboration with the State Government in the fight against drug abuse, adding that the fight against drug abuse is a collective responsibility of all citizens.