Drug Abuse: Resist temptation from peer group, LASG advises youths

The Lagos State Government has issued a warning to young adults, especially teenagers and youth, about the dangers of peer pressure that could push them to engage in illegal activities including drug usage and trafficking.

The Ministry of Health’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, issued the warning weekend, stating that peer pressure has been related to drug and substance abuse, misuse, addiction, and illicit trafficking, particularly among teenagers and young adults.

At a school awareness and sensitization programme to mark the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking this year in Lagos, Ogboye, who spoke through the Director, Pharmaceutical Services, Mrs. Oyebisi Omolanbe, explained that people, especially teenagers and young adults, may be forced to use and abuse drugs.

“Peers play a significant role in our lives, especially in late childhood and adolescence; however, negative peer pressure with regards to misuse and abuse of drugs and substances, as well as trafficking of the same, comes with a lot of burden and negative consequences”, he said.

At the event, which was organized by the Lagos State Interministerial Drug Abuse Control Committee, Ogboye stressed the importance of giving young people the tools they need to stay away from drugs, resist peer pressure to start abusing drugs, and speak up for themselves.

“We are here to sensitize, educate, and empower young minds with information that will help them make the right choices. Knowledge, they say, is power, so having the right information about the abuse of drugs and substances and how to stay clear of it cannot be overemphasized.

“Drug and substance abuse can affect every aspect of a child’s life and also have a negative effect on society. So the earlier we nip it in the bud, the better for our youth and society, he said.

The Y2023 UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’s commemorative theme is “People First: Stop Stigma And Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention”, and Ogboye said the importance of prioritizing the mental health of citizens, stressing that the fight against the abuse of drugs is a collective responsibility of everyone.

“So this year’s theme is people-centered. Addicts and people who abuse drugs and substances should not be treated as criminals but as patients. We should see them as sick. The way you treat any other patient is the way they should be treated. But for the suppliers, the distributors, they should be treated as criminals”, Ogboye said.

While he gave all stakeholders the task of continuing to develop strategies targeting youths and young adults and implementing well-thought-out interventions to achieve the necessary developmental goals in a drug-free society, he argued that the awareness programme organised for the schoolchildren had created an opportunity to share facts on the dangers of drug abuse and also equip them with basic skills to say no to drug abuse.

Dr. Oluseyi Odewale, the event’s facilitator, explained that drug abuse can damage a young person’s brain and cause dependency because their brains are still developing and can affect their ability to make judgments. This will have a negative effect on how the child interacts with society.
“The brains of young people are still developing. And any attempt to introduce any substance to that developing brain will actually mess it up, and the last place to develop is the place of judgment, which is the place of executive functions such as memory, learning, decision-making, and the ability to weigh down time”, she noted.