By Zika Bobby

 

Ambassador Mrs Chibuzo Patrick Osigwe is the  President and Founder, Meljenstin Youth Empowerment Initiative, a  Non- governmental Organisation. She is the Managing Director of Buzopat Films and Entertainment, CEO of Meljenstin Public Relations/Events and also a former Executive Assistant to Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano on Community Liaison.

A global Ambassador of Charity, Peace and  Unity, Youth Empowerment and former Public Relations Officer for Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Chibuzo Osigwe said it’s time to finally put an end to the one thing that is destroying our youths: Drugs.

“With a purpose driven advocate of ‘say no to drugs, mental health and wellness’, we must all united to secure the future of our young ones.”

Drug addiction and its causes

Drug addiction is a substance that could bring about a change in the biological function through it’s  chemical action. Drug is also a substance that modifies perception,  cognition, mood, behaviour and general body functions of the user. Abuse is an abnormal use of anything, whenever one is using a substance in a way that is not intended.

Drug abuse and addiction can be insidious, slowly taking over all corners of a person’s life, even rendering them unrecognisable.

Drug abuse and addiction can be caused by a lot of things. Peer pressure, experimental curiosity, lack of parental supervision, personality problem due to socio-economic conditions,  lack of knowledge of health, inferiority complex, depression, family history, mental and social implications.

A lot are also caused by needs for energy to work long hours, some because of rate of unemployment amongst the youths, gangsterism  or cultism, self medication, trauma like sexual abuse, negative contamination, low self estee. Again, the idle mind they say is the devil’s workshop. Some are genetically transferred, self image issues, devaluation in quality of life, lack of education, continual rejection of the youth and many more.

Negative effects of drug addiction

You see such abusers of the substance having dilated pupils, grinding of their teeth, skin numbness and excessive sweating, shortage of breath, systemic hyperthermia, malnutrition, impaired immune system, high blood pressure, vessel damage, clotting, stroke, cardiac arrest, madness, suicide, loss of appetite, irritability. The list is endless.
Addiction can take over a life and fuel all kinds of typical activities like sex addiction, gambling addiction , exercise addiction, smart phone addiction, drug addiction,  indecency addiction, sexual assault, rebellion, poor academic performance or even dropout.
The effects are also on social aspects which can be physical problems, mental retardation and psychiatric complications, it makes the person a talkative, an armed robber, with a lot of social vices.
It can have financial effect like spending more money on the purchase of the substance, most times, death is the end result.
How can drug addiction be checked?

This can be checked through different ways. There is the role of media. Information, they say, is key. There is the role of religion in providing a difference for youths in their relentless pursuit of the limits of substance abuse.

Non-Governmental Organisations like mine should intensify action in reaching out to the people. What about parental guidance and control. This is very important because once the parents fail, society has failed. Stiff penalties, doctors consent, teaching the effects of drug abuse, aggressive extinction of all resources, continuous campaigns, rehabilitation, self determination to say no to drugs and alcohol, curriculum on drug education, counselling centres for drug control, family education on drugs should be a must, avoiding self medication, examining the risk factors, learning healthy ways to cope with stress and seeking professional help are all ways to ensure we have a drug-free society.

A global problem

It is a global problem because it creates and presents a multifaceted challenge that touches millions of lives world-wide on a negative level. It is  hitting different countries differently,  a terrible disaster, a problem the whole world is facing  and it is a very complex and complicated issue. Both the rich and poor are seriously affected.

How it affects us

it affects us in a very dangerous way because the youthful population in Nigeria alone is about 70 to 80 millions, which is 60 per cent of the total population, and this number can undermine the stability, security and peace of any nation if left unattended. This is scary, and you begin to wonder what the future holds for the nation when about 50 per cent of its youths are unemployed, 10 per cent under employed, 47 per cent uneducated, with 10 per cent, burdened and depressed. We definitely will have an army of hungry, disillusioned and angry youths. Remember that the symptoms of drug abuse can be mild or severe, depending on the type of drug, the duration of the usage, the age, the health status of the person, the psychological characteristics as well as the method of withdrawal, that is why I said that it is here with us, wrecking havoc because it is easier to become an addict but very difficult to get out of it.

Who are the youths and why are they involved in drugs?

Youths are people between the ages of 18 to 35. They are the  most active, vibrant, most volatile yet most vulnerable.

They are easily influenced by environment and other external factors.They are the major resource base, the nation’s greatest asset,  power house of energy and the link between the present and future of any culture or nation. Majority of youths don’t believe in themselves  and the nation and are already into serious social crises like armed robbery, religion violence, political thuggery, kidnapping, cultism, insecurity of lives and property.

Teenagers and youths are high risk groups.

They are involved in drugs because of the already mentioned factors.

Which generation is to blame?

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To a reasonable extent I can say that the older generation truly didn’t fail. The people that failed are the present generation. The people we call older generation are illiterates and uneducated parents who raised graduates and hardworking children, who became doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, officers and other professionals. Today, these well trained people excluded discipline and morals in training their own children all in the name of ‘I don’t want you to pass through what I passed through in the hands of my parents’. You forget that what you passed through are things that shaped you into being the better person you are today.  Some of today’s parents abuse drugs in front of their children, even engage in its trade. Food is always ready even before these kids get out of bed, they have nannies who wash, iron and clean the house. Today’s parents are scared of correcting and disciplining their children. A lot of them have lost total control to guide, lead and train them with values and virtues. It is these present generation of parents that have failed.

Your impact on some youths 

As founder of Meljenstin Youth Empowerment Initiative, we decided to see how we can help to reduce the number of youths who abuse drugs. Meljenstin NGO gathers youths in their thousands from different communities and create the enabling environment using constructive and correctional exercise like youth conference to help them say capital NO to drug addiction and abuse. This educational and informative opportunity helps equip them to be useful in the society, fight denial,  know how to select friends, have impulse and control,  defeating negative thinking,  inculcating self confidence and fear of God while learning the importance of being busy.

Because we understand that every youth is unique with specific needs, we take our time to organise walks against drug addiction- school visits, seminars, workshops, public speaking, fliers, leaflets and youth conferences. We have the 8th edition coming up on June 20, 2024.

Like I mentioned earlier, our goal is to eradicate extreme dependence on drugs by youths in the communities, to promote family education on drugs, to create opportunities for good health living in the communities, to ensure that unnecessary deaths are avoided, to raise a standard against depression, violence and unnecessary destruction of relationships, families and the society in general.

To reconcile wandering adolescent with their parents and empower them to be able to find their bearings and have their purpose in life fulfilled, and to also give teenagers access to Instructual materials and to allow them know what the law says concerning drugs, the consequences and penalties.

We have organised over 50 different projects alone on youth awareness and empowerment.

To the glory of God, I can proudly and happily say that we have achieved a lot in this area. Testimonies are everywhere. A lot of families had their prodigal sons and daughters returned back to them in sober reflection after attending the MYEI NGO youth conference of Say No To Drug Addiction.

We bring in reputable and seasoned speakers from NDLEA, NAFDAC, the police, psychologist, mental health coaches, emotional intelligent speakers, and so on. Above all, we commit our works and workers including the conference attendees to God in prayer.

The only thing that has been sad and painful is that what I do with this NGO is done through self sustained effort.

I have never really had a Federal Government, State Government , Local Government, corporate bodies or even a well meaning individual coming up to support this angelic and noble cause.

I have received calls from hundreds of parents who sincerely wanted us to follow up on their children but I don’t have a rehabilitation and resource center to keep them but the positive impacts of this youth conference is loud.

What we do is to recommend them to the few available rehabilitation centres and in most cases they are usually filled u. The way and manner the youths are embracing substance abuse is unacceptable,  it is not easy for us to raise the funds though the few ones we can get, we still manage to pay for the rehabilitation of the ones we can which is not a child’s play at all.

The truth is, if the youths know how expensive rehabilitation centres are and how much they charge  per head, what goes on in there and what it costs to put them there,  they will pity their parents and help their own destiny by staying far away from drugs and any substance.

Government and drug abuse

The government especially the Federal Government through the NDLEA has been doing a lot in their own capacity at the federal and states level but it only takes a notorious and hardened drug addict from the community to go to the city to corrupt, initiate and commit crime. Government must come down to communities and identify with those working directly with victims and facing the reality of how drugs are messing up our fathers, mothers, youths and teenegers alike. NGOs working with communities must be applauded by the government in other to get the message of drug addiction to the ones that truly needs the real help.

Every year the International day against drug addiction comes up with different themes. If it’s not stop discrimination, start prevention, Invest in dialogue, bring the evidence, get high on grades not on drugs, it will be on accepting and correcting with love, and these messages can’t be useful or achieve the purpose without people like us creating activities that will drive it home in different communities.

We need Federal Government, state government to help Meljenstin Youth Empowerment Initiative get a rehabilitation and resource center so we can accept the addicts, help them overcome, build back their confidence with the technicalities needed and empower them to be useful to the society.

Already, we involve caregivers, influencers, parents, CWO men/women, market women/ men, street boys, media, Inspirational coaches, high moral spiritual heads, activists,  police commands and lawyers. So if we have a rehabilitation center through government support and help, the youths will have massive curriculum on drug education, families will benefit from the knowledge on drugs and it’s prevention, youths will learn creative talents and different vocational skills.

Thank God we work with Pathfinder’s Votive Laboratory and Hovas Eye Care Clinic already. This health intervention is so noble because drugs endangers health and life.  We are determined to create a world where repentant drug addicts can be empowered to lead a healthy and fulfilled life.

Advice to youths

Youths have the potential to be the greatest agent of change and sustain development in their communities, state, country and world at large. So it’s very imperative our youths are saved from drugs so as to be super useful to everyone including themselves.

My appeal to the youths is to please channel their energy to the right direction. You are our pride, our hope, our future, you are unique and special.  You are the  strength of every nation.  Guide your life jealously and stay far away from drugs.  Say  no to drug addiction and abuse.

Be confident in your answers by giving a firm No. Teens tend to follow a strong leader amongst them and sometimes all it takes is a positive teen that says no to drugs to keep the whole group away from it.


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