Northern Nigerian Breaking News

NDLEA inaugurates first helpline Centre for victims of drug addiction

Retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has inaugurated the first and foremost helpline centre for victims of drug abuse and addiction.

Marwa, who inaugurated the call centre on Thursday in Abuja, said the provision of the toll-free helpline was a milestone in the agency’s resolve to broaden access to quality health care for drug users in the country.

He said it had become a necessity and a strategic intervention in the agency’s determined effort to bring under control the increasing cases of drug use disorder and related health concerns.

The NDLEA boss said the importance of treatment in addressing the drug challenges could not be overemphasised, especially given the magnitude of drug abuse in Nigeria.

Read Also: Marwa seeks drug test for youth Corps members

5th aNNI

According to him, the step the agency is taking today will be appreciated by those who have a good grasp of the consequences of the patterns of abuse exposed by the 2018 United Nations Office on Drugs Abuse and Crime (UNODC) National Drug Use and Health Survey.

“The benefit of the Call Centre is manifold, aside from helping us in providing telephone-based psychosocial support and addiction services in the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA).

“It will at the same time, provide us with information that will deepen our understanding of the country’s dynamics of drug use and potentially put us ahead of the game.

“To those in need of help, we opened a new chapter today, whereby help is just a phone call away,” he said.

Marwa said that the agency had simplified the helpline service by making it language-sensitive, whereby callers have the choice of language including English, Pidgin, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.

“And very importantly, the helpline is open 24/7. A call to the helpline, 0800 1020 3040, elicits a prompt response from professionals, regardless of the time or geographic location, “ he said.

The NDLEA boss said the calls opened the door to engagements with counsellors, followed by service orientation that leads to case management.

He added that at this point the engagement moves from telephone assessment to follow-up therapy sessions and referral.

He said that this seamless process ended in Resolution and Aftercare Follow-Up, given the simplicity of the process, hence there was no valid excuse for not accessing treatment by drug users and their concerned families.

“We expect those concerned to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

Read Also: Protest as Air Peace abandons passengers in Kano

- Advertisement -

The NDLEA boss said the agency recognised the importance of providing a safety bubble for users who ordinarily could not access the conventional treatment services at established rehabilitation centres.

This he said, was due to poverty, social stigma and the resultant discrimination attached to being an identified drug user in society, among other factors.

“Therefore, the inevitability and the utility of a toll-free helpline that guarantees anonymity, confidentiality and safety, as a motivation for those in need of health help to freely seek such, ” he said.

Marwa expressed profound appreciation to Primly Services Limited for partnering the agency on the project.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the necessity for a Toll-Free Helpline to cater for the needs of people who use drugs and their families, was long overdue.

Malami, who was represented by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mr Muhammed Abubakar commended the NDLEA for the laudable initiative aimed at providing confidential and anonymous information related to drug addiction, alcoholism, and treatment.

He said that the disturbing upsurge in the use of psychoactive drugs, especially cannabis, prescription opioids, and unconventional substances across the country had made the establishment of the centre by NDLEA inevitable.

He also said that the consequences of drug use affected not only the individuals who used drugs, but also their families, friends and society in general.

“This call centre will no doubt contribute to addressing Nigeria’s growing drug problem by providing information on substance use, treatment facilities, and other drug-related issues to the drug users and their families, and invariably facilitate entry into drug treatment.

“More so, with the anonymity of calls, the caller is not required to provide personal information.

“This ensures the individual is not judged, scolded, or reprimanded for drug use but provided with an insight into the benefits of treatment and rehabilitation.

“The step taken today will help us to support, guide, and provide a safe and stigma-free space for drug users to get the help they need.

“Having said this, I also want to believe that with time, NDLEA will establish more of these call centres, especially along geo-political zones for easy accessibility and reduction of issues arising from poor network, ” he said.

Malami commended the agency for its purpose-driven and spirited efforts to arouse the public through advocacy and sensitisation with the ultimate aim of saving lives.

The Country Representative, UNODC, Mr Oliver Stolpe commended the agency for the giant strides in ensuring that drug abuse and Illicit trafficking were reduced to the barest minimum. (NAN)

Comments are closed.