The use of drugs – legally obtained – such as alcohol and some medications; or illegal substances such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine and so on; for recreational purposes, and simply to feel good, is termed drug abuse.
We had previously covered some of the reasons why young people turn to drugs, as well as explaining why prevention is always better than cure. Today, we focus on the societal impact of drug abuse and highlight why it should not be disregarded or down played by the Government and her agencies, the media as well as law enforcement agencies.
Security: The majority of individuals who engage in crime have expensive drug habits which they need to steal or engage in crime to be able to finance the habit. Thus, with increasing drug use in our cities and communities, we all become potential targets for those who are desperately seeking for quick cash on a daily basis, in order to buy their drugs.
It is therefore, not a surprise that crime rates usually skyrocket with increasing rates of drug abuse in any community. Therefore, when drug abuse rates spiral out of control, it should send alarm bells ringing because of its concomitant security implications.
Family: High rates of drug abuse usually result in marital problems as the person involved may run into debt and unable to meet financial responsibilities. A man with alcohol problems for example, may be drinking on credit at the beer parlour. Such a man will immediately go there to settle his debts, once he gets his salary, as well as paying a deposit for the coming month. Whatever is left thereafter, is what he then takes home for his wife and children.
This pattern of behaviour often leads to domestic violence and child abuse/neglect; as the wife is likely to complain. It may eventually cause marital discord or end in divorce. The children in such scenarios, usually are the worst hit, as they may have to drop out of school or lack adequate care and attention. They may also grow up with emotional scars.
Education and productivity: Young people who engage in drug abuse are likely to have poor academic performance, and engage in violence, thus running into trouble with the school authorities. They may be suspended or eventually expelled from school; if they don’t drop out on their own before then.
This leads to avoidable under-achievement, which may become cyclical and generational. Those who are already working, may receive queries for poor performance and frequent lateness which may result in dismissal and a loss of income.
Death and injuries: Drunk driving and use of drugs often result in road traffic accidents. Deaths and injuries ensue. Yet all sorts of alcoholic drinks and drugs are sold at every motor park across the country. Most of the drivers and conductors – especially those who undertake long distance journeys– are the usual customers.
This is a clear and present source of danger to all road users and passengers, who commute across the length and breadth of this country on a daily basis. This situation calls for urgent attention if we are truly a nation that places a premium on the safety of the lives of our citizens.
It is a source of concern that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as well as the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) cannot partner with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to ensure that they appreciate the magnitude of the risks and why it is not in their enlightened self-interest to sustain such practices.
Diligent enforcement of the laws with punitive measures can then be brought to bear, after the initial engagement and advocacy outreach. Some anecdotal feedback in the course of personal advocacy in this regard, appear to suggest that in some areas and states, the NURTW are in cahoots with the political leaders and are therefore deemed untouchable.
Such reports will truly be most unfortunate if true. It is therefore our collective responsibility, as civil society and citizens, to ensure that the necessary agencies are encouraged to do their jobs and clear our motor parks of these hazards to public safety on our highways. And it really does not matter if you use a personal car and you always never exceed 100kilometres per hour while travelling, with meticulous use of the seat belts and other safety precautions. Because another driver who is drunk or high on drugs can veer off his/her lane and smash into your car. Thus, we all need to be proactive in this regard. Our lives – or those of our loved ones, our collective safety, may depend on it.
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