NGO says infectious diseases rampant among drug addicts

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By Maureen Ojinaka
Enugu, Nov. 24, 2020 A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Bensther Development Foundation, says that infectious diseases are rampant among drug addicts in the society.

Mr Nonso Maduka, Executive Director of the foundation disclosed this during a Stakeholders’ Forum on Infectious Diseases, Drug use and Achieving SDG3 on Tuesday in Enugu.

Maduka explained that infectious diseases such as HIV, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis C and B were prevalence among drug addicts, who inject the substance into their blood.

The director further asserted that one out of three persons who used cannabis had mental health problem.

He noted that not all drug addicts were criminals as there were different reasons that made them drug addicts.

Maduka urged the public to always discourage illicit drug users from using drugs, through counseling, showing them kindness, and taking them to hospital for treatment.

“There are lack of facilities and capacity at the community health centres and substance abuse is community based.

Even among the health professionals, they cannot help a drug addict, rather they often scold or maltreat such a person,” he alleged.

Maduka said that treatment of drug addicts could be by rehabilitation, counseling, providing vocational education, through community development, among others.

Dr Justus Onu, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu said that drug addicts required treatment because it is a disease.

Onu called on the public to avoid blaming the drug users, instead they should help them to get treatment.

“Treatment of drug addiction reduces the prevalence of drug related crimes and as well reduces the transmission of HIV/AIDs,” he said.

The consultant added that drug addiction was one of the emerging epidemics in the society.

A Director at Enugu State Hospital Management Board, Mr Sam Egwuonwu said it was necessary to sensitise the public, especially at the community level about the danger associated with drug addiction.

Egwuonwu added that this would help in reducing illicit drug use among the youths.

A participant, Mrs Amaka Ekoh said that the forum had made her realize why most drug addicts should not be tagged criminals.

Mr Helen Ojukwu, another participant said it was necessary to sensitise students on the danger of drug addiction.

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