Handling drug related emergencies in the home

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 and 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;

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  1. Counselling:

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.

  1. 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.

6. Pray

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.

Chizzy Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye is a chemical engineer who is driven to challenge status quo and add value everywhere she goes. Her pleasures are photography, chess and cooking.

18 thoughts on “Handling drug related emergencies in the home

  1. Nice one. We think being aggressive and spontaneous in some cases are the best solution to problems.

    Listen and straight to rehab if need be !!!

  2. Magnificent!!

    The problem is inside and requires an internal approach. It needs serious internal moves like deep communication between parents and the children involved. Listening gives this connection.

    A support group made up of parents can help to a great extent as this will show commitment from many parents and more positive ideas shared and followed through. This will also boost the strength of parents.

    In crisis, one of the best things anyone can do is to look within.

    Good thoughts Chiezugolum. More……..

    1. Thank you Chuks.
      We hope to take this message to parents who may not have access to the internet.

      Hopefully, we will get our approach right with time.

  3. Having engaged in a sensitization against drug abuse during my NYSC, one thing was very common with the patients/victims….They lack a bit of close attention, once their family or close friends notices the situation, they either start avoiding them or they start stigmatising them. In fact aside the few who were influenced by their peers, most confessed to have resorted to the act due to loneliness and frustration.

    I am an advocate of prevention rather than focusing on rehabilitation.

    We need to pay more attention to people around us, no one is immune irrespective of your background, people will always be shy to speak up, let’s be more sensitive, it’s no different from alcoholism.
    There won’t be need to find solace in drugs if we’re always there for one another.

    1. Very true.
      Isolation will fuel the addiction more.
      However, I have also discovered there is no one size fits it all.
      People have a tendency of becoming manipulative when they know the love will always be there

  4. Practical steps you have highlighted there.

    In listening, parents can have a heart to heart talk with the ward. Focus on the recovery of the ward and not passing judgments.

    Concerning the rehab centres, Nigeria is still work in progress. We have few of such around, the existing ones are mainly in Lagos and few northern states and they don’t exactly meet the standards of a rehab home, more like a confinement centre.

    We need more advocacy in that regard.

    Superb writing as always Sis.

  5. Love and understanding must be a core pillar of whatever approach to be taken. If am faced with this problem, I will try to show more love and spend a better quality family time doing mostly listening and providing support. The written approch here is quite spot on; and, adding or removing anything from this piece means adulterating it.
    My own parents would flog the living devil out of me!

  6. Good one Chizzy….Also,parents should get counsellors who have gone through and overcame drug issues to engage their child; if not, the child may not put to work whatever you have to say or whatever medium you take to curb the lifestyle.Remember, every lifestyle choosen by a child is highly influenced by a group of people (his/her peers). So in that regard, parents should be keen in monitoring the friends their ward keep,as well as their models

  7. This is a wake up call to all prospective parents…this insightful article calls for proactive parenting. Parents need to get into the world of their kids, know their friends, read their books, watch their movies , spend time with their kids. Let them be the first people to discuss issues like sex and drugs….

  8. If only parent will begin to have a deep picture in our inner heart that being a parent is beyond, kitchen duty, house chores, securing and protecting employment, life will be much more great for our ward, but the entanglement of daily employment activities won’t just allow parent to give maximum attention to our ward. Counselling to the young ones precisely on drug addict is beyond professional experiences, its also a call, a passion and a lifestyle developed and enhanced over the years through inductive study, research and analytical articulation of experimented practical steps. The misplacement of some parent priority is so unfortunate and a pity to some ward. Some parent will even tell you to eliminate their lives by injecting them, that what is the essence of keeping them alive…from experience not just a mare say. Its not very easy to handle such issues though, but violence, aggression, beating and the likes has never and will never be the solution. You have to patiently tolerate, listen and care for them. Its not an easy task but its always a worthy course.

    God bless our Parent
    God bless Nigeria
    God bless Africa
    God bless Chizzy (Great Job)

  9. The article posted by chizzy N is very insightful and timely considering the challenges parents and propspective parents are facing. parents should therefore view parenting as a proactive responsibility. Get into the world of their kids or wards; know their friends, teachers, the movies or animations they view on regular TV or Satellite TV, the internet and social media.

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