• Opinion
  • Updated: May 09, 2024

Effects of Parental drug habits

Effects of Parental drug habits

By Emmanuel Onwubiko 

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, few hours ago revealed that a staggering 18.3 million children are out of school in Nigeria. 

However, there is a key reason that incubated this high figures of out of school children in Nigeria and this fundamental cause is traceable to the irresponsibility of parents who have dangerous drug habits. There are indeed other socio-economic fundamentals fueling this menace of unprecedented number of out of school children in Nigeria which is the seventh biggest exporter of crude oil resources in the World. 

An official of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Debowale Adegbite, had recently urged parents to watch out for withdrawal symptoms, to know when their children are abusing drugs.

In particular, parents should be mindful of changes in the temperament of their children as it is a key indicator of drug abuse.

Adegbite gave the advice at the Amuwo/Odofin Constituency 2, Lagos State House of Assembly 7th Annual Constituency stakeholder meeting in Lagos.

The meeting, with the theme, “Increasing wave of drug abuse: A threat to nation building,” was an interface between electorate and their representatives.

Adegbite added that drug abuse is an equal opportunity affliction that knows no age bracket.

”Youths and school pupils should desist from taking illicit drugs. The consequences are very grave, but can be avoided if parents pay close attention to their children,” he said.

The Coordinator, National Youth Council of Nigeria in the area, Bola Babalola, noted that youths are most vulnerable to drug abuse, due largely to idleness, which lures them with all its debasing consequences.

“Our area lacks social amenities such as youth development centre, skill acquisition centre, community library, where youths can exert their latent energy and be gainfully engaged with things that can add value to their lives.

“If such facilities can be established in the area, many of our idle young ones will be occupied without the temptation of going into drugs to overcome idleness and depression,” Babalola said.

He described the unwholesome activities of land grabbers in the area as repugnant to the society, as it often resulted in the conversion of designated recreational spaces in the area to commercial outfits.

He called on the lawmakers to recover such public spaces, with a view to establishing the amenities they were earmarked for.

Babalola added that multinational firms operating in the area should also be compelled to carry out stipulated social responsibility activities agreed to with the community before being granted permits. 

However, NDLEA is also very much aware of the colossal effects of bad drug habits of parents towards the proper upbringing of their children and wards. 

The NDLEA under the charismatic and forward looking leadership of Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa(rtd) has also rolled out multidimensional programmes that are structured towards bringing about the adequate rehabilitation of such parents hooked on to this irresponsible drug habits with a view to safeguarding the future of their children who are inevitably the leaders of tomorrow.  

NDLEA is known to have constructed and commissioned for use, several rehabilitation facilities across the length and breath of Nigeria all in a bid to bring succour to persons hooked on to the bad drug habits which demography also includes parents. 

Nanzem Nkup, writing from Rikkos, Jos on 8th Nov. 2023 on the theme of 'PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM DRUG-TRAFFICKING PARENTS', published in Thisday newspaper pointed out vividly that the rate at which women are involved in the illicit trade of drug trafficking is alarming and should be a subject of concern to the Nigerian public. 

The writer stated rightly that  in the past three months, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) announced the arrest of an unprecedented number of female suspects. 

One of them, the writer said, was the alleged female head of a drug syndicate who was arrested at her residence in Lagos, shortly after she returned from a warehouse at Amuwo-Odofin, where she loaded eight cartons of tramadol into an unmarked SUV. 

Similarly, a Lagos, female lawyer, alleged to have specialised in the production and distribution of skuchies, a new psychoactive substance (NPS) that is a mixture of cannabis, opioids, and black currant, was arrested in a follow-up operation in Awka, Anambra State, following an earlier seizure of cannabis and bottles of prepared skuchies in her apartment in Lagos. 

In the first week of October, there was a mugshot of a 45-year-old woman who was arrested at Kano airport on her way to Saudi Arabia with cocaine and methamphetamine. A week earlier, two women were arrested with bags of cannabis. 

The writer in a similar vein to the concern we are raising in this reflection observed that what is appalling about their situation is that they conducted their illicit businesses in their homes, where they lived with their children. 

This the writer said should be of concern to Nigerians. And that we should start pondering: What kind of children are these women raising? Again, this raft of arrests of female traffickers should also turn our attention to the possibility that not all teenagers picked drug abuse or drug trafficking habits from friends and peers.  

Some of them actually ‘inherited’ the habit from their families. If a mother or father sells cannabis or any other illicit drugs for a living, what is the possibility that the child will deviate from the ‘family’ business? What is the possibility that the child will not end up as a user?, the writer emphasized and indeed very rightly. 

The writer further stated thus: "In our collective drive―spearheaded by NDLEA―to rid our country of the menace of dangerous drugs, we need to pay attention to children from homes where parents are active producers and traffickers."

This then brings us to the disturbing figure of over 18 million out of school children which positions Nigeria as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children globally. 

This frightening figure therefore demands that policy makers should consider mainstreaming anti-hard drug education in the policy frameworks of such strategic ministries like that of education and health just as working out possible areas of synergy and partnership with the NDLEA is strategic. The UN agrees that this menace demands concerted efforts of a multi-sector stakeholders to confront the hydraheaded monster.

For instance, Dr Tusher Rane, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Bauchi State, who disclosed this lamented that the education system in Nigeria faces challenges in retaining students.

He made this known in a goodwill message at a two-day Regional Stakeholders Engagement Meeting on the Out-of-School Children and the Retention, Transition and Completion Models in Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa states, held in Gombe.

Rane said that a whooping 10.2 million primary school-age children and an additional 8.1 million at the junior secondary level are out of school in the country.

“Unfortunately, this positions Nigeria with the challenge of having the largest number of out-of-school children globally,” he said.

“Only 63 percent of children of primary school age children regularly attend school.

“According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2021, only 84 percent of children effectively transition to junior secondary education after primary school completion.

“Less than 50 percent – about 2.4 million – of the 5.9 million children who commence Primary Grade 1 annually in Nigeria persist to the conclusion of Junior Secondary Grade 3.

“An analysis of the MICS reports between 2011 and 2021 shows an increase in dropout rates across all genders at the primary level especially in the northern part of the country.

“Specifically, the primary-level dropout rate rose from 1% in 2011 to 5% in 2021. A similar upward trend is noticeable when considering wealth quintiles.

“For students belonging to the poorest wealth quintile, the primary-level dropout rate increased from 2% in 2011 to 6% in 2021. Among students in the richest wealth quintile, the dropout rate also showed an increase, rising from 1% in 2011 to 4% in 2021.

“This consistent pattern suggests that, compared to a decade ago, the education system in Nigeria faces challenges in retaining students and ensuring their continued education across all the regions and the problem persists in the northeast and northwest.

“Numerous obstacles prevent consistent school attendance, timely enrolment, and completion of education for all Nigerian children.

“Some of these obstacles include inadequate evidence-based policy and planning, limited budget allocation, significant shortages of qualified teachers and classrooms, poor infrastructure, cultural norms, health and safety worries, and dependence on children for income and household tasks”.

Speaking further, Rane said UNICEF was deeply worried with the rate of out-of-school children, and low learning achievement in the country, especially in the north-east and north-west regions.

“In collaboration with the Universal Basic Education Commission, we have developed the “National Framework of Action to Reduce the Number of Out-of-School Children in Nigeria” and the“ Retention, Transition, and Completion Model” which ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all,” he disclosed.

Scientists and experts had in a detailed report stressed that substance abuse is a major public health concern that impacts not just the user but also the user’s family. 

The effect that parental substance abuse has on children has been given substantial attention over the years. 

Scientists say findings from the literature suggest that children of substance-abusing parents have a high risk of developing physical and mental health and behavioral problems. A number of intervention programs have been developed for parents who have a substance abuse problem. 

In that vein, these scholars disclosed that there have also been a number of interventions that have been developed for children who have at least one parent with a substance abuse problem. 

However, it remains unclear how we can best mitigate the negative effects that parental substance abuse has on children due to the scarcity of evaluations that utilize rigorous methodologies such as experimental designs. 

The scientists being cited in this concluding part of our write-up  stated that the purpose of their study is to review randomized controlled trials of intervention programs targeting parents with substance abuse problems and/or children with at least one parent with a substance abuse problem in order to identify programs that show some promise in improving the behavioral and mental health outcomes of children affected by parental substance abuse. 

The scientists said that four randomized controlled trials that met their eligibility criteria were identified using major literature search engines. The findings from this review suggest that interventions that focus on improving parenting practices and family functioning may be effective in reducing problems in children affected by parental substance abuse. 

However, further research utilizing rigorous methodologies are needed in order to identify other successful interventions that can improve the outcomes of these children long after the intervention has ended, they stated.

We call on everyone in the policy making and implementing governmental institutions, to consider addressing this essential factor of the bad drug habits of some parents as one of the causes of the high number of out-of-school children in Nigeria. 

Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria and was National Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.



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