Worried by the increasing menace of drug abuse and its impact on the society, the Lagos State Government on Thursday launched the Lagos State Kicks against Drug Abuse (LASKADA) campaign.
It is an initiative of the state Ministry of Youth and Social Development, aimed at creating massive awareness on the implications of drug and substance abuse, as well as to get addicts off the streets.
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State said that the decision to launch the awareness campaign was a response to the dangerous dimension that drug abuse had taken.
Ambode was represented by Mr Tunji Bello, the Secretary to the State Government.
He said: “This campaign tagged: `Lagos State Kicks against Drug Abuse (LASKADA)’ is a clarion call and a reminder of our responsibility as individuals, organisations and society to rise and safeguard our collective future.
“We must condemn in strong terms, the excessive and persistent self-administration of drugs without regard to medical prescription.
“As a responsible government, we will not fold our arms and allow this unhealthy practice to create a blurry future for our tomorrow.
“This is what informed the establishment of Youth-friendly Centres in all the Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
“These are to serve as avenues for relaxation and recreation as well as to further engage our youths in productive ventures so that the menace of drug abuse can be drastically reduced.’’
According to Ambode, the Drug Dependent Rehabilitation Centres located in Isheri and Majidun were established to give support to the young ones addicted to drugs.
“These centres are operating side by side with the privately-owned institutions which are also contributing significantly to the realisation of this overall objectives,” he said.
In her remarks, wife of the governor, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, said that LASKADA campaign intends to carry out aggressive sensitisation on the misuse of drugs by young people.
Ambode, who launched the campaign, urged LASKADA to be focussed to achieve its aim of addressing the prevalence of drug abuse.
She also urged parents to be attentive to the needs of their children and wards.
Also, Mr Agboola Dabiri, the Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Lagos, said: “We have observed that lots of young persons throng the state daily.
“Many of them do not have any clearly defined way of making ends meet and they often get disappointed when their experiences become a far cry from expectations.
“With this disappointment or frustration, most of them fall prey to pressure and influence from other youths who are already drug addicts and eventually gets lured.’’
According to him, young people abuse variety of drugs including inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols and solvents), over-the-counter cough drug- codeine, as well as sleep and diet medications.
He said that they also abused other illegally used drugs like marijuana and stimulants- cocaine, crack and speed.
“Youths involvement in this anti-social behaviour comes with outcomes including robbery, stealing, kidnapping, cybercrime, rape, domestic violence, murder, suicide and other outcomes, which are on the increase.
“ We cannot allow the vitality and vibrancy in our young persons to get endangered by drugs and other unhealthy substances that are being peddled in recent times, because they constitute the country’s greatest assets.
“The health and optimal development of young people is critical in national development agenda and deserves significant attention,” Dabiri said.
Also, Mr Emmanuel Henshaw, who claimed to be a “Cocaine Recovery Addict’’, advised youths to stay away from drugs, saying as “it is a Killer’’.
Henshaw said he got into drugs when he was 13 years old, adding “at my present age of 43, I can say there are no benefits in taking drugs.
He urged governments, families, religious bodies, non-governmental organisation, schools and the entire society to join in the fight against drugs and substance abuse.