By Justina Asishana

Like many, Mr. Nonso Maduka, a pharmacist, lived with the notion that every drug addict was a criminal, and should be behind bars. To put it to the test, his friend set a trap for one drug user, telling him to get some money from his car. Maduka thought the guy would not resist the temptation to either bolt with the cash or tamper with it. To his surprise, the fellow handed the money to the owner, not touching a kobo.

That changed Maduka’s perspective. He also conducted a survey which revealed that drugs are not necessarily the causative factor for most crimes.

“I was shocked because I believed then that all drug users are criminals and they always take money,” Maduka said.

Most Nigerians also have that mindset. Has that helped in curbing hard drug use? No. In fact recent statistics have shown that drug use and trafficking are on the increase with the prisons getting filled with drug users awaiting trial who become worse even after they are released from prison.

This was what a three-day drug policy academy organised by the YouthRise Nigeria sought to address. During the workshop, participants, mostly youths cutting across civil society organisations, NGOs, health and the media were reorientated on the myths and misconceptions of drug use in the country.