The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency says it has established an emergency call centre to provide counselling services for those struggling with drug abuse as part of ways to discourage stigmatisation against them, the PUNCH Metro reports.

This was revealed by the spokesperson for the agency, Mr. Femi Babafemi on Wednesday, during the launch of a book titled, ‘The Last Syndicate’, in Abuja.

The event was organised by the NDLEA Celebrity Drug-Free Club in commemoration of the 2023 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.

The book meant to discourage drug trafficking and substance abuse in Nigeria was authored by an NDLEA commander, Mitchell Ofoyeju.

Babafemi, who represented the agency’s chairman, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd.), said the drug abuse call centre was launched to provide anonymous counselling services to victims.

He revealed that the place is witnessing high patronage because people are not being stigmatised.

Babafemi said, “It should also be noted that the agency recently launched a drug abuse call centre with a toll-free helpline to enable members of the public to assess counselling and treatment from the comfort of their homes.

“I am glad to state that the patronage of the centre by members of the public is very encouraging and this is because the gap that has over the years existed between those struggling with substance abuse and the treatment they need has been bridged. They don’t have the fear of being judged or nurse fear of stigmatisation,”

He commended the Celebrity Drug-Free Club for the initiative to fight drug abuse in society and promised to continue supporting them.

“The club is a platform set up by celebrities to advance the campaign against substance abuse in the country, first within the industry where they operate and then to the larger society. We believe this would help to positively influence their fans and followers, especially on social media where they wield quite a lot of influence. This would help them to stay away from substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking. We must also know that indeed, the agency supported their efforts.

“The theme for this year’s celebration, which is, ‘People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention’, no doubt has reaffirmed the importance of protecting humanity from the consequences of illicit drug and substance abuse. I urge our stakeholders to continue to promote the campaign against substance abuse,” he added.

Speaking at the event, the author of the book, Ofoyeju said the publication contains an anti-drug message, which would be further adapted into a movie to reach a wider audience.

“The book talks about a certain drug baron, Mr. Mudiaga, whose drug business was destroying other young people’s lives in Nigeria, while his three children lived and were studying abroad.

“But nemesis caught up with him, and his two sons. Unknown to him, they got involved in a drug ring and were killed during a clash between two rival drug cartels abroad. His daughter died from the use of illicit drugs after contracting HIV-AIDS from a drug injection tool,” Ofoyeju said.

The coordinator of the NDLEA Celebrity Drug-Free Club, Mr. Wilson Igbodado, expressed his gratitude to the NDLEA boss for his support.

He said, “This is an important day to reflect on the global challenge of illicit drugs and substance abuse. The ‘International Day against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking’ is principally to strengthen actions, cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse.

“The theme this year is ‘People First Stop Stigma and Discrimination’. It resonates with the Club’s vision of getting people involved in global campaigns. This year’s theme raises awareness of the importance of treating people who use drugs with respect and empathy, and to provide evidence-based quality service for all. We would continue to work with celebrities that have good track records to advance the campaign.”

Meanwhile, the Emir of Keffi, Dr. Shehu Yamusa, noted that he regrets that drug abuse has become prevalent in the country, adding that it needs to be urgently tackled to secure the future of young people.

“The problem can be tackled if we all play our roles in the eradication of drug abuse. As parents we, should try to notice signs of addiction in our children. If all stakeholders, parents, community, play their role, the fight against drug abuse will be won,” he said.


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