An NGO, Bensther Development Foundation, has urged the Federal Government to review its policy on drug abuse to enable addicts to seek voluntary help.
Mr Nonso Maduka, Executive Director of the foundation, gave the advice in Enugu at a forum on ” Effective Drug Control Approach.”
Maduka said decriminalising drug use would help addicts come out voluntarily and seek help to overcome their drug dependency.
He noted that many drug users were willing to seek for help but were often afraid of being stigmatised by society.
Maduka said that decriminalising drug addiction would also create a safer space that would protect people from human rights abuses by law enforcement operatives.
“There is so much human right abuses among the law enforcement agencies under the pretence of waging war against drug abuse.
“People are beaten, molested, extorted and sometimes raped by drug enforcement officers,” he said.
According to him, the continued incarceration of drug addicts will not stop dependants but encourage their peers to indulge in the act.
He urged the Federal Government to change its approach toward controlling drugs in Nigeria, noting that the existing policy had not worked.
Maduka also called on state governments in the South East Zone to establish standard centres where drug addicts could be rehabilitated and reintegrated back to the society.
Mrs Ijeoma Nnaji, South East Zonal Coordinator of the Community Intervention Network on Drug, advised journalists to help change the narrative on drug abuse.
Nnaji said that collaborative efforts by everyone was needed to direct drug addicts on the right path.
She also urged the public to see drug addiction as a health issue.
One of the participants and General Manager of Coal City FM, Mrs Joy Obitimata, said that the workshop had further enlightened her on the management of drug addiction.