Save Our Heritage Initiative (SOHI), an NGO, on Wednesday, challenged parents to rise to the occasion of tackling and reducing drug abuse and addiction among adolescents in the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Abuja-based NGO, Ms May Ikokwu, gave the challenge in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
She identified parents as critical to the fight against rising drug addiction among different age groups, especially teenagers.
She explained that young people who persistently abused substances often experienced problems.
She added that “these include academic difficulties, health-related problems including mental health, poor peer relationships and involvement with the juvenile justice system.
“Declining grades, absenteeism from school and other activities, and increased potential for dropping out of school are problems associated with adolescent substance abuse,” Ikokwu said.
The SOHI boss, who decried the alarming spate of drug abuse among teens, warned that there were consequences for family members, community and the entire society.
“A drug addict in the family is likely to be stealing regularly and indiscriminately from the mother, father and siblings, neighbours and family friends, thereby constituting embarrassment and disgrace to the family.”
Ikokwu, however, urged parents to build trust between them and their children which was essential in reducing drug abuse.
She maintained that teens that have excellent relationship with their parents were almost two times more likely to not have any friends who used drugs.
“Have open and honest conversations. Talking to teens can be tough, especially when they seemingly want nothing to do with their parents or are too sunk into their social media feeds.”
Ikokwu added that drug abuse was capable of bringing about low level of commitment to education and higher truancy rates among adolescents.
“Cognitive and behavioural problems experienced by alcohol- and drug-using youth may interfere with the academics negatively.”
She said that drug abuse could trigger increased risk of suicide and homicide among adolescents, thereby putting the family at risk.
Reports state that UN Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) report shows an alarming rate of drug abuse among Nigerian youths.
The report shows that Nigeria has one of the highest drug prevalence in West Africa with ages of 15 to 64 at 14.4 per cent.
UNODC explained that “this is almost three times the global world use prevalence of 5.5 per cent; the implication is that drug abuse is almost getting to an epidemic proportion.”