• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Help: Our drug abuse figure of 15 million is more than the population of Liberia, Mauritania, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau

Help: Our drug abuse figure of 15 million is more than the population of Liberia, Mauritania, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau.

By Chido Nwakanma

Dr. Dokun Adedeji is a physician with a heart for the uncommon and the down-and-out. He spent decades taking care of young and old people who were going around the bend because of drug abuse. Last year, he took a significant turn… but landed in the same business.

He has a resonant message: there is fire on the Nigerian mountain regarding drug abuse, and citizens must come together as individuals and groups to fight it. Despite their proven capability, it is beyond the ken of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

He adds, “To get the significance of the challenges we face with this scourge, let me present the current statistics from the UNODC’s global survey of the prevalence of drug use and the results for Nigeria.

“Globally, the prevalence rate of use is 5.6%. In Nigeria, this is 14.4% – almost triple the global average. This translates to about 14-15million users in Nigeria.
“The total population of Liberia, Mauritania, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau is 13 million. This means, therefore, that the population of users in Nigeria as of 2018, when the report was published, can make up a nation.

“The survey covered a range from 15-64 years of age. The highest use rate was between the ages of 25 and 39. It was also found that one of every four users is female.”

It is more discomforting when you hear the following statistic. “Most unfortunately, the age of use is coming down with children as young as between age 8 – 10 now using substances of abuse”, Dokun Adedeji adds.

He affirms, “The exciting thing about my involvement in this anti-drug crusade was that it was not an intentional enterprise. It was fortuitous and probably the hand of God, though it fits into any character that cares about other people and how I can help.”

Dokun Adedeji, the Chief Executive Officer of Compassionate Care Recovery Initiative (CCRI), a Non-Government Organization working within the treatment and rehabilitation space, is a medical doctor, prolific writer and poet, a transformational public speaker, and a deeply committed and passionate Nigerian with a heart for touching lives. He has an uncanny understanding of the workings of the human mind. He was the former Director-General of CADAM, a faith-based NGO that caters for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

He is also a Member of the Special Purpose Committee of the CCEO of the NDLEA, an advisory body.

Trained as a medical doctor at the prestigious University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, his work experience traverses diverse sectors of the national economy in equally diverse and sometimes intricate positions.

His professional journey includes significant achievements. He started as a Senior Medical Officer with First Foundation Medical Center in Lagos. Later, he joined Cadbury Nigeria PLC, initially as the Company Medical Advisor, and then became the HR Department’s award-winning head. His tenure at Cadbury Nigeria was marked by notable contributions, demonstrating his expertise and impact in the field. He voluntarily retired in 2010, leaving behind a legacy of excellence.

Former Consultant to the Federal Government SURE-P Programme, Dr Adedeji consults for corporate bodies and organisations in the medical and human resources fields. His passion for humanity is revealed in his numerous not-for-profit services to various segments of society’s less privileged.

Dokun Adedeji started formal care for drug abuse patients at the Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry (CADAM), a faith-based NGO of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. It was a walk of faith and profession. Pastor Ezekiel Odeyemi, then the Pastor-in-Charge of the parish at Ladipo Oluwole Street, Ikeja, founded the NGO as a call.

Adedeji now recalls, “It was divine as it was a child of foresight, even when drug or substance abuse was rarely discussed or acknowledged.”

He testifies: “Many families benefited from CADAM’s services. By the time I left in June last year, it must have seen at least 5,000 beneficiaries—either residential, rehabilitation, or counselling—not counting the numerous people within and without the church who have benefited from its advocacy, programs, and activities.

“With the frightening increasing use of drugs by teenagers, youths, especially undergraduates, the organisation started the treatment and rehabilitation of people with substance abuse disorders at a Centre at Mawuko, Abeokuta, donated by a good-spirited Nigerian, Mrs. Mojisola Balogun. There, we managed undergraduates referred to us by their institutions, graduates, professionals, and workers for three months. Upon their discharge and our certification, these people were reabsorbed into their institutions to continue and complete their education onto graduation, whilst the workers were reabsorbed back to work.”

He adds, “Let me also state that because of my involvement in this project at Cadbury Nigeria Plc, I won a global award within the company, The Chairman’s Award for Employee Involvement in the Community. This award enabled me to be the guest of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth during the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. I had the honour of being one of the bearers of the torch for the Games.”

Adedeji lists five learnings from his experiences for everyone to imbibe and implement.

(i) Anyone can use drugs depending on the prevailing circumstances.

(ii) These folks must be seen as victims who need help, not punishment or stigmatisation.

(iii) There is life after drug use.

(iv) As a nation, we must wake up to the reality of the drug situation in our country and be involved in the crusade against it.

On his second missionary journey of care, Adedeji says, “My motivation derives from my personality and family background. This also complements my professional training—to be there for others in their trying moments and help them stand and attain their full potential. The joy amongst the victims and their families was a great encouragement. My family members and friends further encouraged me with their words, prayers, and donations in kind and cash.”

NDLEA’s CEO, Brig Gen Buba Marwa, is a pillar of support. “He visited the Centre we operated at Araga and made me a member of his Special Purpose Committee, an advisory organ. He offered me the opportunity to deliver the Keynote Address during the 2023 World Drug Celebration at Aso Rock.”

Adedeji contends now with start-up issues. Compassionate Care Recovery Initiative works in the same space of treatment and rehabilitation of substance use disorders. With an office in Anthony Village, “We are still looking for a suitable property on the outskirts of Lagos to serve as the rehabilitation Centre. We have sent feelers to families with unused properties at Abeokuta and Ijebu-ode through friends to donate such houses for our use.”

Adedeji states, “I love people. I like to be involved with the vulnerable segment of our society and offer them hope. I believe in every individual’s potential if opportunities come their way. Humanity binds us all.”