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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Poverty Fuelling Drug Abuse, Mental Illness – Gov. Ikpeazu


Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has urged for concerted efforts by government at all levels towards addressing issues of poverty in Nigeria.

The Governor spoke in Enugu on the theme, “ Poverty and Drug abuse; Their Nexus in mental Illness”, while delivering the 5th public lecture of the West Africa College of Nursing, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu.

The lecture marked part of the opening ceremony of a one-week certificate course in Adult Geriatric and Public Service for health workers.

Ikpeazu identified poverty as the commonest factor that has encouraged drug abuse among young persons in the country.

He stated that the social and economic status of most Nigerians was below average, pointing out that the situation had been aggravated by lack of skills and employment opportunities, adding that in the bid to fight these and other frustrations, young people and even older ones resort to drugs for succor.

While disclosing that poverty had contributed significantly to high school drop-outs and child labour, he said: “Such children enter the streets where there is no parental or teacher control and are likely to join unscrupulous group and gangs that will initiate them into the drug culture”.

He identified peer pressure, lack of parental control and adverse parental influence, curiosity and Heredity among others as responsible for drug abuse, stressing that there was need to check the rising rates in the interest of the society.

He stated that attempts to prevent or treat substance abuse and the mental illnesses they cause must include measures taken to alleviate poverty at the individual, family and community levels, adding that his administration had intervened in different aspects of socio- economic lives in a bid to end poverty and reduce the prevalence of drugs and mental illness in the society.

Ikpeazu identified measures taken by his government to address the problem to include creation of multiple jobs, investing in trade and commerce, oil and gas as well as industry and education.

He stated that Commerce had been given a boost in the state through the “Made in Aba” campaign, where he had become the chief promoter and marketers of Made in Aba products by wearing the cloths as well as encouragement of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).

He said he has linked major roads in the state to areas of production and markets with the completion of over 80 of such roads.

He said that the state government has boosted the enrolment in public schools with the school meal programme, from 140,000 to 600,000, adding that more than five thousand women have gained employment as Cooks in the various schools in the state.

In a remark, the course coordinator, Mr. Afam Ndu said the annual one-week course was essential to enable health workers with emerging demands of taking care of the old in the society as well as manage increasing issues of mental health.

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