Across the world today, we mark the International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. The 2018 theme is tagged Listen First.
In previous articles, here
we discussed combating Nigeria’s rising drug problem and how parents, wardens and teachers can identify commonly abused drugs.
However, beyond identifying the drugs, there is need to know adequate responses when faced with a crisis. I am a strong advocate of not living in denial of what your ward can or cannot do. This article, therefore, addresses those who have come to terms that there is a problem and are seeking a solution.
Discovering your ward has a drug problem can be truly devasting. You become subject to several conflicting emotions ranging from self-blame, feelings of disappointment and pain.
So here are a few things you should not
do if faced with a situation like that;
- Shouting at the child aggressively:
Let’s face it, shouting at the child will not achieve anything. It rather makes the child (or adult) clamp up and become unresponsive. There is also very little flogging or beating can do.
- Reporting the matter for police (especially for first time offender)
Most parents out of anger take the wards to the police station. You know to ‘teach them a lesson’. Hardly is there any lesson taught in the deadbeat cells. Rather most kids get the wrong exposure and develop criminal tendencies even for just 24 hours.
- Getting the child locked up in asylum and chained up
Another wrong approach is to get the child thrown into an asylum. This is common among repeat offenders who are already addicted to drugs. Asylum and chains adversely affect the child psychology. He or she repeatedly plays the scene of being locked up all their lives. It also has a high tendency of leading to psychosis; depression, anxiety, restlessness and fear which will lead to comorbidity.
- Being judgemental
This is definitely not the time for ‘I told you so’s’. it’s also not the time to blame either spouse. In Igbo culture, if a child is good, it’s the man son and when bad, the mothers. Being judgemental builds walls and prevents wards from opening up to underlying causal factors.
- Carrying the child to endless prayer houses
Oh, my! This is one of the most common approaches by a typical Nigerian Parent. Our first reaction for erring wards is to move from one prayer house or the other to ‘cure’ the child. Need I say how the unending shaking of one’s head which typifies their operation lead to endless migraines.
Without much ado, here are a few things I recommend you should do.
- Listen first
This is perhaps the most important thing you have to do. Your ability to have a conversation in levelled voice is key. Keep in mind not to raise your voice, speak with anger or irritation. The point is to find the root cause of the drug issue. The issues can range from peer pressure, depression, anxiety and just sheer curiosity. Learn to communicate your points clearly and firmly.
- Provide a support system in the home:
This means that you do not alienate the drug offender rather let the home be a safe haven for him where he can freely talk about his emotions. Addiction recovery is easier with a strong support system. This helps with the knowledge that they are not alone and members of the family become accountability partners
- Join a support group with other parents:
A support group with other parents will build a knowledge hub. It Enables you to get up to date information as what is happening, up to date intervention strategies etc. in addition, the support group will provide emotional support to the members. You can decide to start one if none exists in your area.
This should be the second step after listening. Care must be taken in choosing a counsellor. It is advisable to go for a trained expert and someone the ward can feel comfortable enough to talk to. It is estimated that almost all drug dependants require counselling, not rehabilitation. A counsellor helps to draw out deep-seated issues that a parent may fail to discover.
I recommend two counsellors for those in Enugu and Abuja axis.
Mr Adeolu of YouthRise Nigeria. Mr Adeolu is the Project Coordinator of YouthRise Nigeria youthrise.org
with vast experience is drug-related counselling. I will also recommend Pharmacist Nonso Maduka of Bensther development foundation located at Number 2 Marcus Garvey New Haven Enugu.
- Enrol the ward in a sound rehab home
If counselling fails, it is highly advised to enrol the ward into a sound rehabilitation centre. Before selecting a treatment centre, ensure you research the place to know their treatment methods. It is important you select homes who treat their patients with dignity and their human right is not abused.
Praying in such difficult time will help bring peace and calmness. Pray for a steady recovery process for all involved. Pray for strength to handle all that will come your way.
The lists above are not exhaustive. However, as we join the world today to celebrate the international drug day we must remember that preventive approach still remains the best in combating drug issues. We must preach support for drug dependants and not punishment.
Finally, remember that drug dependants are humans too.