UNODC advocates evidence-based measures to tackle drug abuse in Nigeria

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has called for urgent and evidence-based measures to tackle drug abuse in Nigeria.

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The UNODC Deputy Country Representative in Nigeria, Danilo Campisi, who made the call at a press briefing ahead of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also emphasized on the need for scientifically-backed strategies to address the growing drug problem.

The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World, celebrated on June 26, aims to promote global cooperation and action towards a drug-free world.

According to the 2019 National Drug Use Survey, drug use prevalence in Nigeria stands at 14.4 percent, three times the global average, with the highest rates among those aged 25 to 39.

This Projections indicate a 40% increase in drug use in Africa by 2030, primarily due to the continent’s youthful population.

The UNODC representative, Campisi, while highlighting on these statistics, described the situation as a “national emergency” urging Nigeria to prioritize preventive measures based on scientific evidence.


He however highlighted on the efforts been made to address drug use in Nigeria.

”UNODC has worked with the Government of Nigeria to develop and implement evidence-based prevention measures which include the highly successful UNPLUGGED, a school-based Drug Prevention Programme implemented together with the Federal Ministry of Education, in 110 Unity Schools and in a few states in the country, notably Kebbi, Bayelsa and recently, Kaduna, on the initiative of the State Governments in these States. And thanks to the partnership of the MTN Foundation, the UNPLUGGED programme has been extended to some public schools across the country. This programme has been proven to be effective in curbing drug and substance use among participating students.

Results indicate that Results indicate that students who went through at least 9 sessions of the UNPLUGGED prevention programme showed a reduction in alcohol use by 48%”.

According to UNODC representative, despite the successes achieved by UNPLUGGED program, more still needs to be done reach a wider range.

“However, despite the success of the UNPLUGGED programme, the programme only reaches 2 percent of the school population in the country. State Governments and private school practitioners are urged to consider the implementation of the UNPLUGGED programme in their schools, so that this programme reaches a wider audience”.

The UNODC representative while acknowledging the European Union’s support in adapting and evaluating the UNPLUGGED program in Nigeria, reaffirme the UNODC’s commitment to providing technical and normative support for these evidence-based prevention and treatment programs.

“In addition to UNPLUGGED, the UNODC has piloted other effective programs in Nigeria. These include the Strengthening the Family Programme and Strong Families, which focus on building family resilience against substance use, and Line Up Live Up (LULU), a sports-based prevention program targeting out-of-school youth. Another initiative is the Drug Education for School Children program, aimed at sensitizing young students about the dangers of drug use”.

The theme of this year’s World Drug Day commemoration, “The evidence is clear, let us invest in prevention” is particularly insightful for Nigeria as it highlights the importance of adopting evidence-based, preventive measures to counter drug and substance use.

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