Jos — Mental health experts have called for the strengthening of drug control laws in order to check the rate of addiction among youths and to reduce crime rate in the society.
The experts who spoke at a zoom roundtable discussion on the theme, 'Addressing Issues of Peace, Justice, Security and Human Rights (The Right to Health)', also addressed the issues of drug use and the criminal justice system, antiquity and modern times.
The event which was organised by Charis Healthcare and Community Support Initiative (Jos) and Funded by Rosa Luxemberg Stiftung had participants from Jos, Akure, Ibadan, Abuja, Gombe, Makurdi, Otukpo, Lokoja, Ghana, UK, USA's Maryland Baltimore, and Malaysia.
A Professor of Psychiatry/Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the University of Jos and Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) in Plateau State, Obindo James Taiwo, explained that like every other disease, drug addiction among youths and other vulnerable groups can be prevented and treated, adding that if left untreated, it can last a lifetime.
"However, how long it takes for an individual to become addicted is dependent on the type of substance, repeated use or dose taken.
"Once hooked or addicted, the individual can do 'anything' to get a 'fix' including committing crime," he added.
Dr Aishatu Yusha'u Armiya'u of the Forensic Psychiatry Unit, JUTH, said drug users always need to generate illegal income to support their drug habit, therefore making them to get involved in crimes like robbery, theft, and prostitution to get funds to buy drugs.
She said drug abuse might inhibit and lead to impulsivity, aggression, abusiveness, argumentativeness, agitation and grandiosity in the abuser, which ultimately results in the impairment of judgment and violent crimes.
"The menace of drug abuse is like a virulent cancer ravaging our society, with grave health, social and economic consequences which threatens our survival.
"Therefore, all hands must be on deck to curb these threats in order to guarantee our survival and secure future.
"The criminal justice system is a stakeholder," she said.