Mrs Victoria Opakunle, a top public nursing officer, has condemned persistent use of illicit drugs by youths and children in the country, describing the menace as a sad development.

Opakunle, Head Nurse, Kamwire Medical Centre, Ilorin, expressed her concern in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday.

She described the situation as “unfortunate’’, noting that the abuse was an indication that Nigeria has become a country of choice for illicit drug users.

Opakunle said that drug abuse among youth, including consumption of marijuana, has brought untold hardship on the country’s social system.

“This development has led to escalation of social vices among the youths such as school dropouts, cultism, prostitution, armed robbery, kidnapping, mental derailment and political thuggery,’’ she said.

According to her, the abuse of codeine containing cough syrup has become more worrisome because statistics had shown it is rampant among the youths, advising them to desist from the act to avoid the negative effect.

“Drug dependency is an increasing problem that cuts across every national, ethnic, religious, gender and socio economic divide.

“It carries devastating social and economic consequences through its impacts on health, functioning and overall wellbeing.

“When you see a young man in the hospital with drug withdrawal syndrome, at that point, you will feel sorry for such because the future has already been jeopardised.

“When they start taking these substances, they feel good at first but in the course of it, they lose themselves and their future. They become addicts and it becomes too difficult to back out,” she said.

Opakunle expressed worry that young people who abuse drugs record high level of absenteeism and often drop out of school in frustration.

“Addiction suffered through marijuana consumption by Nigerian youths had led to serious social implication on the mental and physical development of young adults.

“The impact of drug abuse among Nigerian youths is producing a pool of unemployable and unemployed youths who had become social miscreants constituting problems to the society and to the government.

“The victims’ inability to make rational decision causes them to join secret cults, which further encourage more drug abuse,” she said.

Opakunle said that homes were the foundation of everything, adding however that if the home was well built, most of these ills would be prevented.

“Most times, the causes of this drug abuse are usually broken, dysfunctional family, poor or unstable background.

“If parents can take their time to pay attention to their children, then most of these issues will be more than 50 per cent solved.

“Parents needs to teach their children morals and show them the right path to have a good future not buying future for them,” she said.

Opakunle said that the menace of drug abuse had been consciously addressed by the Nigerian government through various agencies and institutions like the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

“The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other government law enforcement agencies have really made efforts in curbing this menace affecting our nation.

“I urge them to continue the good work and ensure the society is free of drug abuse and other menace attached to illicit drug consumption,” she said. (NAN)