Tuesday, February 16, 2021

FRIDAY SERMON: Drugs and our societies, by Abdullah Musa Abdul

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Jaafar Jaafarhttps://dailynigerian.com/
A graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief o Daily Nigerian
tiamin rice

I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

“O you believe! Intoxicants, gambling, and Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaitan’s handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination) in order that you may be successful.” Qur’an 5:90
Substance abuse in Nigeria is significantly becoming a problem to the economic and social continuity of the country. Dr. Martin Agwogie of NDLEA described the situation, saying “Substance abuse in Nigeria and the new trend is becoming a significant medical, psychological, social and economic problem facing the nation. More worrisome is the increasing number of secondary school and tertiary institution students who are getting involved in drug abuse. These are the future leaders of Nigeria. What will the future of the nation be if its supposedly future leaders are drug addicts?”
In 2014, Lagos State government reported that 50 percent of its bus drivers take illegal drugs. This finding was arrived at after 442 drivers tested positive for illicit drugs such as cocaine, morphine, opiate, ketamine and marijuana.
While in 2015, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had the north-west topping the table of arrests for drug related offences for that year, with a total of 2,205 persons, beating the south-west which recorded 1,785 arrests. The north-central followed with 1,605 while the south-south, south-east and north-east recorded 1,380, 979 and 824 respectively.

 

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But out of a total of 2,205 people arrested on drug charges in the north-west, only 38 were females – the least, compared to other zones, especially south-south which led with a total of 269 females.

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With these disturbing statistics, it is clear that the nation is sitting on a time-bomb perhaps more detrimental than Boko Haram because it not only undermines the future of the nation it equally erodes the family support system. But as it is with all social and psychological problems, a thorough investigation on the causes of drug addiction or as the new term suggests, drug dependency will help significantly in determining how best this social menace can be curbed.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates the following risk factors for developing drug abuse problems typically seen in adolescence between the ages of 16-25; unstable home environment, often due to drug abuse or mental illness of the parent, poor relationship with parents, inadequate supervision over adolescent’s activities, peer pressure, permissive attitude towards drug use, availability of drugs in the community amongst others.

Hence, it is clear that the causative agents or risk factors for developing drug abuse are dynamic thus, the approach to preventing and/or recovery from drug dependency has to be dynamic also. In addition, parents must realize the negative role they play in pushing their children into drug abuse. A child that has a rough childhood is more liable to fall victim to drug abuse which means parents must perfect the art of parenting in a balanced manner such as not to over-pamper a child or withdraw completely from him. If parents always give their children what they want then they will in return give their parents what they do not want.

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In Islam, the principle of Al-Wiqaayah khayrun Minal ‘ilaaj (Prevention is better than cure) is very key in arresting the issue of drug abuse that has taken its toll on almost every family. Interestingly, the NDLEA operates under two models as stated in their Acts; supply reduction and demand reduction. In terms of supply reduction, the conglomerate of law enforcement agencies which include NDLEA, SSS, Nigerian Custom Service, Police force and drug regulatory bodies such as NAFDAC need be truthful and honest in discharging their responsibilities. It is not only a service to the nation but a moral burden on them. Cases of some agents intercepting drugs and later on selling them to dealers and dependents are not helping matters.

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Allaah Exalted be He, says: “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression.” Qur’an 5:2. Hence, those charged with the responsibility of supply reduction must lead by example.

Also, In order to make meaningful progress in curbing drug abuse, there must be a modification in family reaction toward the addict. Denying and defending the addict’s behavior in front of others, paying for their debts incurred as a result of buying illicit drugs just to keep them out of trouble or to save the family from societal stigma plunge them further into substance abuse. In places like Portugal where significant progress has been made in curbing drug related issues, emphasis is laid on kindness and gentleness in dealing with the one facing the challenge of substance abuse and engaging them in productive activities to take their minds off drugs.

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Often times, reminding people of their past mistakes makes them sad and depressed which again triggers the urge to take drugs. A more effective way is to give them message of hope and not of destruction. Parents must also must pay attention to the source of their income. Illegal acquisition of wealth either through public loot or otherwise only increases the chances of having a broken and morally bankrupt children. Muslims must pay special attention to their five obligatory prayers because it has the spiritual effect of rewiring the neuro-paths created by drug dependence.

Of importance also is the issue of forced marriages, which is one of the risk factors for developing drug dependence especially in married women. This can be seen in the rise in drug abuse amongst married women in our societies. When they feel depressed and are forced to marry people they have no affection for, they likely are vulnerable to seek calmness in drugs. Again, Islam does not accept this as a legitimate way of dealing with sadness and depression, there are a lot of Prophetic prayers that address this issue. Hence, scholars, parents, counsellors, need to lend listening ears to women and must be compassionate towards them so that they can have a safe-heaven to relate their problems with the hope of getting the needed assistance.

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Another risk factor is the absence of mentorship in the lives of young people. Mentorship is lacking in most societies today. Children grow up having no real mentors that push them to greatness. In the absence of that, they seek mentorship from TV shows and the internet in imaginary celebrities whose morality is in total shambles. The Masajid (mosques) must be used as a platform not only for spiritual discourse but also for social reform as it affects the spirituality of the Muslims. They should introduce sessions that will sensitize the populace on the issue of drug abuse and devise means of curbing it. This effort will go a long way in demand reduction of drugs.

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Creating positive circles of influence around the addict and even would-be addicts will also reduce the demand for illicit drugs. In addition, the means of access to bad friends and influences should be cut off by connecting the addict to righteous and goal oriented people. This also can be achieved by modifying the environment they live in either by substituting their objects of temptation or by completely taking them to new environment for a period of time either to further their education or to engage in a productive endeavor.

Finally, there is an urgent need to have an Islamically oriented rehabilitation center. This centre should be managed by medical experts, psychologists and scholars as against most rehabilitation centres available today in this society where torture is employed and drug dependents sometimes end up being homosexuals.

The Narcotics Anonymous in her IP No. 8 publication wrote; “A lot happens in one day, both negative and positive. If we do not take time to appreciate both, perhaps we will miss something that will help us grow. Our principles for living will guide us in recovery when we use them.”

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