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UN raises alarm over drug use disorder in Nigeria

Nigeria will have to grapple with 20 million drug users by 2030, says the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its ‘World Drug Report 2021’ released on Thursday.

Over 14.3 million people in Nigeria used different kinds of drugs in the year 2020, it revealed.

The report stated that from UNODC’s Drug Use Survey in Nigeria, 14.3 million people used drugs, which increased in 2020, along with the figure for Africa.

The U.N body noted that the COVID-19 global pandemic also heightened the risk of drug use during the period under review, and based on the current projections, Nigeria would have an estimated 20 million drug users to grapple with by 2030.

“Between 2010 and 2019, the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent, owing in part to global population growth.

“Based on demographic changes alone, current projections suggest an 11 per cent rise in the number of people who use drugs globally by 2030 — and a marked increase of 40 per cent in Africa, due to its rapidly growing and young population.

“In Nigeria, this would signify that the country will have to grapple with approximately 20 million drug users by 2030, further deepening the public health and public security challenge”, the report added.

UNODC also stated that over 257 million people worldwide used drugs in the year under review, with an estimated 36 million people worldwide and about three million in Nigeria suffering varying forms of drug use disorders.

“Meanwhile, 36.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the total number of persons who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders. In Nigeria, with 14.4 per cent, the drug use prevalence is significantly higher than the global average,” it said.

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The U.N body pointed out that globally, over 11 million people were estimated to inject drugs, half of whom live with Hepatitis C, while opioids continued to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drug use.

A clear indicator of the frightful increase in drug use is the increase in daily doses of pharmaceutical opioids used to treat opioids disorder, which grew from 557 million daily doses to 3.31 billion daily doses in 2019.

It further pointed out that drug markets on the dark web, which only emerged a decade ago, now have some of its top companies grossing at least $315 million in annual sales.

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