NNNN: Some mental health experts have called for greater public awareness of the negative effects of drugs on society.
They made the call at a webinar organized by International Society for Healthy Alternatives to Drugs (ICHAD) Sunday in Lagos.
The second annual conference on drugs was organized under the theme: “Drug use and abuse: a thriving natural state” to celebrate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is celebrated annually on 26 June.
David Volaranmi the advocate for drug abuse and drug addiction awareness urged everyone to unite to combat illicit drug abuse and drug abuse among young people.
Volaranmi, a drug addiction survivor, advocated for continuing education, awareness, enlightenment and advocacy in schools, religious homes, health institutions and communities.
He described addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by the desire to use a substance regardless of the consequences.”
Volaranmi said curiosity, poor education, genetic transmission of addiction, peer pressure and parental neglect were some of the causes of drug abuse among young people.
Drug users are advised to seek professional help and adhere to treatment options such as counseling and therapy.
Folaranmi also urged them to replace medications and treat inpatients in rehabilitation centers for detoxification and isolation.
“As someone addicted to cocaine for seven years, I can tell you that the treatment works.
“Get help from professionals such as social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and rehabilitation centers who will customize treatment based on the type of drug or substance being abused,” he said.
Also speaking, Bhoomeeka Jain, a psychologist and mental health advocate, said that the general effect of drug use on brain cells was a gradual process that could eventually lead to death.
“Long-term drug and drug abuse can lead to anxiety, depression, paranoia, aggression, shifting personality and attitudes, irritability, unusual hyperactivity, psychotic problems, and suicide,” Jane said.
Dr Kiki OmeliA doctor turned actress said that cannabis has become a cult place among creators, artists and writers, due to its remarkable association with increased creativity.
Excessive cannabis use can disrupt the endocannabinoid system responsible for regulating and controlling vital body functions such as learning and memory, among other things, O’Melly said.
She said that when THC (the main psychoactive component of cannabis) stimulates receptors in the brain responsible for thinking, memory and pleasure, it creates abnormal euphoria and a feeling of heightened happiness.
“This abnormal, short-lived pleasure and disruption of the endocannabinoid system cause excessive dependence that leads to addiction,” she said.
Speaking about the media’s role in combating drug and drug abuse, investigative journalist David Hunden blamed the media for escalating drug use without regard to the negative effects.
“The use and abuse of substances in the entertainment industry has been glorified and viewed as a harmless recreational activity.
“Some alcoholic beverages today are marketed as sexual performance-enhancing drinks so that people are unaware of the actual ingredient.
“Within the next 15 to 30 years, there will be an explosion of liver and kidney problems as a result of the high consumption of these substances that young people are eating today,” he said.
He urged the visual and print media to do more in reporting drug-related issues without bias.