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The Ogun State Government has identified sustainable youth engagement and empowerment as a lasting solution to the current menace of drug and substance abuse in the society.

Speaking with newsmen in commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illegal Trafficking, with the theme, “Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives”, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Adesanya Ayinde said the youths are most vulnerable to drug abuse due to exuberance and peer pressure, saying the idle ones among this group will likely fall a victim to the menace.

Ayinde, who described the high prevalence of the problem in Nigeria as alarming, said many of the problems in the society such as rape, increased crime rate, road crashes, and spread of Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are consequences of drug and substance abuse.

“The theme for this year’s celebration, “Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives” is apt. It aims at combating misinformation and promotes sharing facts on drugs ranging from risks associated with the menace, solutions to tackle it, to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and care,”

“One thing that we must not shy away from sharing is the fact that abuse of drugs is common among the youth. Many of them misuse prescription drugs and substances to self-medicate, especially in the context of a struggling health system, to intensify the effects of the main substance used, overcome the side effects, or alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary said the key to having a drastic reduction of drug abuse in the country is youth engagement and empowerment, citing the Ogun State Government’s youth-centered agricultural programmes and initiatives as worthy of emulation by other States.

Highlighting the State Government’s interventions aimed at reducing illicit drug demand, Ayinde noted that the Ogun State Drug Control Committee (OSDCC), which is domiciled In the Department of Pharmaceutical Services of the Ministry of Health, has established drug-free clubs in more than 150 government-owned schools across the State, saying the goal is for government to “catch them young before drugs do.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that the Prince Dapo Abiodun led government has been committed to employing youths in the civil service, opening opportunities for them in the agricultural sector, noting that the present administration has engaged numerous youths by training them in the area of Information Communication Technology ( ICT), among others.

He added that OSDCC continuously embarks on sensitization and awareness campaigns in Community Development Associations (CDAs), saying Faith-Based organizations, markets, parks, garages, professional and vocational associations, and civil servants have not been left out.

While calling on more support for the activities of OSDCC, the Permanent Secretary appealed to various Stakeholders to join the global fight against drug abuse in order to preserve the potentials of the youths and promote a healthy society.

He also called on parents to increase the time spent with the children without leaving them perpetually in the hands of elements that may influence them negatively.

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