Mkpuru mmiri: Season of madness in South East

December 24, 2021
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By Favour Goodness

The Yuletide is around the corner and, for the Igbo of the South East in Nigeria, it is their season of homecoming. In this period, population naturally shifts to the communities in the region with the majority of their people emptying Nigerian towns and cities, while many others would be returning from overseas.

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The season comes on the heels of the recent explosion of mkpuru mmiri, the Igbo nickname for a very dangerous hard drug called methamphetamine or crystal meth. Other names of the drug are glass, Tina, cristy, chalk, yaba, crank and zip, among others.

Mkpuru mmiri has become a serious issue in the South East, with thousands of Igbo youths addicted to the drug.

The prevalence of drug use in the South East is about 13.8 per cent, based on a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimate. It is the third highest in the country, following South South and South West with 22 per cent and 16.6 per cent, respectively. This figure simply means that one out of every seven persons in the South East between 15 to 64 years of age has used an illicit drug. This means a lot to any zone that cares about its population.

Some weeks ago, video clips of youths in villages and communities of the South East flogging persons said to be involved in the sale and consumption of mkpuru mmiri went viral in the social media. Many of them had their hands and legs fastened with strings while the beating went on; there were cases where the persons concerned died in the process.

In fact, in one of the videos, a young man alleged to have killed his mother and only sister after taking mkpuru mmiri was allegedly stoned to death by villagers.

These trending videos sparked interest with many wanting to know what mkpuru mmiri is all about.

Mkpuru mmiri and how to know an addict

The drug looks like ice blocks/crystals and can be blue in colour sometimes. It can be dissolved in water. Experts say it is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat.

It is very addictive and affects the central nervous system of whoever takes it. It creates a feeling of massive happiness that is very addictive and makes the user want to fly. But when the effect wears off, the user tries to have that feeling again thereby taking it again.

According to WebMD, some of the signs of someone with serious meth addiction are: tattered dressing and shabby looks; always picking at hair or skin, loss of appetite and weight loss, roving eyes about every time, strange sleep patterns, staying up for days or even weeks at a time and always talking, nonstop.

Other signs are borrowing money often, selling possessions or stealing; angry outbursts or mood swings, psychotic behaviour such as paranoia and hallucinations.

On what the drug does to the body, it causes high temperature and possible death, makes one unable to sleep and violent; the user ages fast and looks sick with lots of pimples.

In denial, a suspected addict could be confirmed by testing his urine for meth; it is present in urine one to two days after use (though it depends on quantity used).

Findings showed that there is no quick cure or drug that can cure mkpuru mmiri addiction. And this is what makes it so dangerous. The only treatment is behavioural therapy, which is not readily available in Nigeria now.

The International Drug Control Conventions categorised meth as Schedule II, meaning “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Since the 1990s, the production of crystal meth has been hijacked by Mexican drug cartels and they came into Nigeria to set up laboratories in 2016.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) described it as a very addictive stimulant that renders the user hyperactive and prone to destructive tendencies which at the extreme do not exclude suicide or homicide at the slightest provocation and without a feeling of remorse.

As a stimulant, it has powerful euphoric effects, similar to those of cocaine. Meth typically keeps users awake, depriving them of sleep. Its use and abuse also carry acute health risks including high blood pressure and cardiovascular-related illness.

Users also exhibit anti-social behaviours. Sometimes, excessive use leads to damaged gum and teeth (mouth ulcers), commonly called “meth mouth.”

Our investigation revealed that people take mkpuru mmiri for just one purpose: to be high. Ask any addict, he will tell you that he does it for “highness” and it makes him feel cool. Some will even claim that it enables them know “some things in the spiritual realm and those plotting against” them. In such case, it will be clear that paranoia and hallucination have set in.

Surprisingly, it was gathered that a good number of commercial sex workers or ladies of easy virtue hustling on the streets of Enugu and Owerri take mkpuru mmiri.

One of them, who gave her name as Rita, told Daily Sun in the New Owerri District that there was nothing wrong in taking the drug, explaining that it helps her in her ‘runs’. According to her, she could handle any number of men and have countless bouts of sex after taking the drug.

“People are just talking about mkpuru mmiri but I don’t see anything bad in it; we just take it for ‘highness’ and it helps me very well. If you meet me and I take it, I will give you anything you want,” Rita said, not knowing that she talked to a journalist.

A taxi driver in Owerri, Imo State, told Daily Sun that the girls usually hide mkpuru mmiri and other drugs in their bras anytime they meet the police on stop-and-search on the road.

So far, the South East Governors’ Forum has urged the traditional rulers and town unions to lead the fight against the sale and consumption of the hard drug. The apex Igbo organisations, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Association of South East Town Unions have also called for collaboration in tackling the scourge. The apex Igbo socio-cultural body made the disclosure just as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it was set for a total operation in the zone.

National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Alex Ogbonnia and National President, ASETU, Emeka Diwe, in separate interviews, told Daily Sun that there was urgent need to address the issue before it destroyed their people.

“There is urgent need to uproot this mkpuru mmiri from our land. Watching the videos, one will see how some communities beat and flog those indulging in the drug but that’s not enough. What they’re doing is good but we need more sustainable methods and tactics, especially through aggrieve awareness and reorientation,” Ogbonnia said.

Asked if the scourge could be attributed to high rate of unemployment in the society, the Ohanaeze spokesman admitted that it was a possible driver but said: “I believe that awareness creation can solve the problem. The youth have to know that those who don’t have job today will have job tomorrow. They must understand that mkpuru mmiri will surely destroy anybody indulging in it.

“So, we will do our best working with the governors, town unions and traditional rulers’ council.”

For Diwe, there is no time to waste as the disastrous effect of the hard drug might not be unconnected with the spate of insecurity in the zone.

Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) also expressed concern that the drug could ruin the future of youths in the zone if nothing is urgently done to curb the trend.

President General of COSEYL, Goodluck Ibem said the group was ready to partner the NDLEA in tackling the scourge.

Ibem said: “We look forward to a situation where the NDLEA will partner with us to find ways and solution to this scourge that is staring us in the face. The youths are the future of tomorrow and if we wait and allow them to destroy themselves, it then means there will be no future for our country.

“The solution to these challenge is for our drug law agency to increase and improve on intelligence.”

But the director, Media and Advocacy of NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, said the agency was not leaving any stone unturned. He disclosed that they had monitored the trend in meth production, abuse and trafficking, especially in the South East, and would soon launch full scale operation in the region.

He disclosed that the chairman/CEO of NDLEA, Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), recently gave specific instructions to relevant directorates of the agency on how to respond to the development.

He added that since the launch of the offensive action campaign early this year, the NDLEA had recorded significant seizures of kilograms of the drug while it also located and destroyed no fewer than 18 meth-producing laboratories in the country in the past few years.

“You can be rest assured that in a matter of time, the pipelines of such illicit drugs would be shut down and those behind it brought to book,” Babafemi said.

NDLEA also commended some communities in the South East for owning the fight against abuse of the dangerous drug, while urging others to key in because the agency cannot be everywhere.

Meth factories in South East

Enugu State may not have made headlines in the flogging and shaming of peddlers and users of mkpuru mmiri but it has the unenviable record of hosting the highest number of smashed factories of the illicit drug in the zone.

For three consecutive years, 2017 to 2019, the Enugu State Command of NDLEA had uncovered crystal meth manufacturing laboratories in various parts of the state.

Acting on a tip-off, operatives of the agency had in June 2018 stormed Okorouba, Ozalla, in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state, where a laboratory had just been set up waiting commencement of full production of methamphetamine.

State commander of NDLEA then, Dr. Anthony Ohanyere, who made the disclosure in Enugu, described methamphetamine as the costliest and most dangerous illicit drug in the world.

According to him, the command had in a similar feat in 2017 discovered such a laboratory in Akpakwume Nze in Udi area of the state and in one fell swoop, seized 2.5tons of methamphetamine, arrested and charged the suspect to court.

Ohanyere said that purveyors of this dangerous trade usually site their operational bases in obscure places where they would not be easily noticed but explained that what mattered to them was having the technology and not really the location.

“When you discover a clandestine lab, it’s not just a local thing; the whole world takes interest. Even the United Nations Office on Drugs takes interest because when things are produced in these local labs; there are not usually for local consumption. They are usually taken out to different parts of the world where they cost a lot of money. It’s like methamphetamine; 100grm of it costs about $500,000 in Japan and Malaysia; you can imagine what a kg of it would amount to.

“They call it cooking; but what matters is having the technology, so when you have the technology, you can cook it anywhere. That’s why they go to the villages; obscure places and do it without anyone knowing.

“We made another discovery last year at Udi; that one, we were able to recover 20kg of methamphetamine; arrested the person and he was taken to court. Calculate 20kg at about $500,000 per 100kg in the international market and see the amount involved. But in the Ozalla own, the man was about to start production when we burst the whole thing; arrested him and carted away the paraphernalia; all the chemicals and equipment that he wanted to use in the production,” he stated.Again, in March 2019, Ohanyere’s successor, Adeyemi Adeofe hit the bull’s eye, when it arrested two suspects in connection with 100kg of ephedrine.

Adeofe said that a follow-up operation led them to No.1 Zion Avenue, Phase 6; Trans-Ekulu in Enugu where they apprehended the next suspect and also unraveled a clandestine laboratory where crystal meth was being ‘cooked’.

Daily Sun was conducted round the premises after the place was sealed and noted that waste products of the illicit substance in the course of production had trickled into wells of neighbouring compounds, thus poisoning their source of water supply.

Regarding the contamination, Adeofe lamented: “This is a very serious implication because time will come when the effects of these chemicals will result to deadly health challenges like cancer, birth deformity, kidney problems, etc.

“We call on government to come to the rescue of residents within the neighbourhood and to also appeal to the general public to come up with useful information whenever they notice or perceive strange activities or unusual smells within their environment.”

Meanwhile, there has not been discovery of any major laboratory for the production of methamphetamine in the South East, lately.

However, the Ebonyi Command of NDLEA said it seized about 196 pinches of the drug from suspected drug dealers from January to date.

The state commander, Isa Adoro said that the seizures were made by the operatives of the agency in various locations in the state, including rural communities.

“The command has been working round the clock in spite of security challenges. We have carried out a lot of public enlightenment in schools, churches, mosques and communities on the danger of drug intake.

“In general, 2021 from January till date, we have seized 196 pinches of methamphetamines, including the loose quantity, meth socked with beverage and these bring it to 0.506kgs,” he said.

State-by-state report

Members of some communities in the South East, especially Anambra State, have taken the law into their own hands to tackle the challenge by adopting physical measures to curb the menace.

The drug is said to have become a household item in such Anambra communities like Obosi, Enugwu-Ukwu, Agulu, Okija, Uli, Awka, Nteje, Awkuzu, Umueri, Umudioka and many more.

In Umudioka, Dunukofia LGA, community leaders and members have said they are prepared to combat the issue. They proscribed the sale of the drug in the town and warned that anybody caught selling or using it would be dealt with accordingly.

President General of Umudioka Improvement Union, Chile Odoji, an engineer, in a statement, warned that the community would not take issues surrounding that subject matter lightly.

The PG listed the drugs banned in the town to include: “Mkpụlụ mmili, Isi na awa agu, Anya achu enwe, skunk and Indian hemp.”

Odoji in the letter copied the Igwe Umudioka, church and Age Grade leaders as well as village chairmen, disclosed that they will be working with the NDLEA, Police anti-cult unit and other relevant law enforcement agencies to begin the arrest of dealers and consumers of drugs in Umudioka.

“You are, therefore, advised to stay away from any known bunk that deals in prohibited drugs”, the community warned.

One other community whose case was celebrated on the social media was Agulu in Anaocha LGA. Youths in the community came out en mass and moved against anybody involved in mkpuru mmiri. Those nabbed were tied to stake and flogged publicly.

President General of Achalla community in Awka North LGA, Chigbo Boniface, told our correspondent that the town has waged war against the sale and use of the dangerous drug in his area.

“We are serious about it. “We inaugurated a youth body whose responsibility is to ensure that anybody that dares use that drug would be dealt with adequately. We have a task force in each village. With what we have on ground, I don’t think anybody will dare consume that hard drug”, he said.

In Nnewi South, the communities in that LGA are currently working together to ensure that the use of the hard drug is stopped. President General of Amichi community, Dan Ugwumba, said that the PGs met at the local government headquarters and discussed the best approach to adopt towards the matter.

“That hard drug is very dangerous and it is our duty to protect our youths. That’s why we have opted to unite against it. We have heard bad reports about the deadly impact of that hard drug elsewhere and we don’t want that to happen to our youths,” Ugwumba explained.

The Anambra State government described the mkpuru mmiri scourge as alarming. Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba said government would soon interface with the stakeholders to find lasting solution to the problem.

Outright ban in Ebonyi

President General of Association of Ebonyi Town Unions, Chief Ugochukwu Akpa, told our correspondent in Abakaliki that the association had placed ban on the sale and consumption of the drug in communities in the state. He warned that anyone caught in possession of it will be arrested, flogged and handed over to the government for prosecution.

Akpa said: “We have devised a strategy to monitor the entrance of the evil drug into the state and ensure the arrest of the peddlers. In all communities in Ebonyi State today, town union leadership and other community leaders have been properly instructed on what to do.

“I would have told you our strategy but the bad eggs will understand it and evade arrest. But I can assure you that as community leaders, we are working with the Government of Ebonyi State and security agencies to stamp out cultism and drug abuse in every part of the state.

“Ebonyi is a growing state. We don’t need that kind of drug here because it will distract and derail our youths thereby rendering the efforts of the state government on youth development fruitless.

“We are very serious in the fight against this dangerous drug and we are going to adopt every possible measure to checkmate it in the state.”

An emergency security meeting of Onicha LGA has placed outright ban on sale and consumption of mkpuru mmiri and other hard drugs.

Part of the resolutions at the meeting chaired by the council boss, Ogbonna Igboke, at the Isu headquarters, was “a total ban on the selling, buying and consumption of ‘mkpuru mmiri’ and other narcotics in all parts of the council.”

Presidents General of Town Unions were charged to be up and doing in this regard or risk removal from office.

Banishment, 300 strokes of cane for offender in Imo

Just like in Ebonyi, community leaders in Umuota Umuhu community, in Ngor Okpala LGA of Imo State, have banned the sale and use of the dangerous substance in the community. They also warned parents that any of their children or wards discovered to be indulging in mkpuru mmiri including Indian hemp would be ostracized from the community.

Chairman of the community, Chief Tony Azu said the decision was to nip in the bud the adverse consequences of substance abuse on the youths of the community.

“Leaders and youths of Umuota Umuhu community have resolved to ruthlessly deal with anyone suspected to be involved in the sale or use of any hard drugs including the latest one called mkpuru mmiri, Indian hemp or Guzoro in our community and we have equally warned parents that anyone who finds out that their children are involved and fails to report them will be ostracized from this community because we will not allow any such deviants within the community,” Azu said.

Similarly, Nguru Umuaro community also in Ngor Okpala organised a sensitization seminar on December 4 for youths of the community on the consequences of the consumption of the illicit substance in the community.

In fact, their decision was that anyone caught would be jointly flogged 300 strokes of the cane by the five villages that make up Nguru Umuaro community.

Enugu begins statewide sensitisation

Daily Sun investigation showed that Colorado is the most popular drug in Enugu State, though, the NDLEA had recently discovered clandestine laboratories for the manufacturing of mkpuru mmiri in the state.

However, the state Government in partnership with the communities are poised to confront the menace of mkpuru mmiri without hesitation. We gathered that the members of the House of Assembly have been mandated to carryout aggressive campaign in their constituencies during the yuletide. Some funds were said to have been earmarked for the sensitization campaign.

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had reportedly warned that working with the speaker, Edward Ubosi, he would personally monitor compliance.

So far, some communities are already doing something. In Nsukka, President General of Opi General Assembly (OGA), Prof. Boniface Ugwuishiwu had met with four traditional rulers of communities that make up OGA to seek the way out of the problem of the hard drug.

Ugwuishiwu, however, expressed reservation about working with the security agencies in the war against mkpuru mmiri in the area.

He said: “We had our deliberations, the Chief Security Officer ex-rayed his experiences over the issue and we came up with a strategy on how to handle the menace.

“Our greatest problem is if we take them to police like previous experiences we had, before we finished from Police station, those guys will follow us and before you get home, you see them sitting down drinking. The thing is giving us very big concern.

“So we just said let us first of all identify the suppliers of those drugs, then identify those that patronize them because they are known, they are not unknown, so after that we will take the necessary steps.”

A youth leader in Ogui Nike community who pleaded anonymity confirmed that the drug is being taking in the area and is gaining higher patronage by the day as even young girls have started getting involved.

“I have seen young girls between ages of 14 and 20 coming to patronize them, some come three times a day. And the picture of it is like a seed of rice and one of it cost about N1,000 or N500, so they normally come every day to buy and once they enter it there is no going back.

“I found out that some of the girls who use it are call girls and according to them, it enhances their sexual prowess and makes their minds strong in whatever they want to do. One funny aspect of it that even the children of wealthy people are involved, like one of them, a girl I talked to one day, her father is a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police,” he volunteered.

The youth leader said nothing was being done in the community to stamp out the menace but said if the youth body was encouraged and given directive with the full support of government and community leaders, they will chase both the suppliers and users out of Ogui Nike community.

Another community leader from Amechi Awkunanaw whose wife runs a provision store confirmed that mkpuru mmiri is sold in his area. He said: “My wife told me that before she heard about the drug there were some particular set of young girls and boy who come to buy iron sponge from her shop and at a time she became suspicious of the frequency of their coming for the sponge and asked one of them one day and she said they use it for something else. It was after some weeks when people began to talk about the drug and how they use class tub and iron sponge to smoke it she realized that those youths were into mkpuru mmiri.”

One community that has taken pragmatic action on the issue in Enugu State is Mmaku in Awgu LGA, where the youth have organised a summit on mkpuru mmiri and other hard drugs.

The community also signed a memorandum of understanding with the NDLEA for joint operations.

Daily Sun learnt that the Mmaku General Youth Assembly (MGYA) working with the neighbourhood watch had approached a major mkpuru mmiri dealer in the community, popularly called Ofunwa and pleaded with him to discontinue sale of the drug. They even offered to pay him for his available stock.

But unfortunately, he failed to discontinue the illegal business until October 14, 2021, when they nabbed and handed him over to the NDLEA.

A statement by Solomon Ojoukwu (President MGYA), Amaechi Obasi (Secretary) and Obasi Temple (Media and Publicity Secretary), dated November 15, 2021, said: “In the course of his arrest, he threatened the youths before the Police that we should pray that he didn’t come back alive; that if he eventually he comes back that he will come after us one by one.

“Currently he is cooling off in correctional centre in Enugu and the NDLEA has officially received his file for further investigation.

“It is ideal to let our people know that Mmaku has entered into memorandum of understanding with NDLEA and their agents have been in Mmaku to track the excessive intake of hard drugs in our town.”

Abia communities take proactive measures

In Abia State, many community leaders were yet to know about mkpuru mmiri, but they were poised to take proactive measures to forestall its spread in their areas.

Traditional ruler of Okaiuga Nkwoegwu, Ohuhu in Umuahia North Local Government Area, Eze Nzenwata Mbakwe said: “I will not tell you I have not heard about it, but I have not seen it with my eyes.”

Mbakwe said by its description, it is not what one would allow to come near the borders of his community.

He said he would be summoning a meeting of his cabinet after which a statement would be issued warning the youths of the community to steer clear of such and other dangerous drugs.

The monarch cautioned that anybody who would go contrary to the directive, would be ostracized from the community.

To prevent the illicit drug from gaining root in the communities, Eze Michael Olu from Egbeigiri-Amazu, Umuhu Ezechi in Bende LGA said there must be synergy between the communities and government on one hand and the communities and law enforcement agencies including NDLEA on the other hand.

He advocated for funds to be made available to traditional rulers for sensitization purposes.

Other traditional rulers who spoke on the issue, including Eze Uwadiegwu Ogbonnaya of Uturu, in Isuikwuato LGA; Eze Okey Anaba of Umuokahia, Obingwa LGA and Eze Emmanuel Agalabu from Obingwa LGA, all agreed that anybody found using or selling the drug should be dealt with.

Many of the youth presidents of the communities equally supported their traditional rulers, promising they would work together to make sure youths in such communities steered clear of the deadly substance.

Reps, IPOB, others weigh in

Several people and groups have spoken on ways of curtailing the menace. The House of Representatives, following a motion moved by a member from Imo State, Henry Nwaoba, urged the NDLEA to do everything possible to stem the spread of mkpuru mmiri and other dangerous drugs in the country.

“This drug nicknamed mkpuru mmiri in the South East is gradually destroying our youths.

“There are laws in this country to control drug abuse and trafficking. Regulatory agencies, and particularly the NDLEA, should step up their control and sensitisation mechanisms”, the lawmaker stated.

Deputy House Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, called for the arrest and prosecution of local manufacturers and marketers of Crystal meth in Nigeria.

Besides Mkpuru mmiri, Okechukwu noted that Nigeria had become plagued by the abuse of many hard drugs, a problem he said required concerted efforts to tackle holistically.

He stated: “What we should be concerned about is; who are the manufacturers of this drug in Nigeria; who are the marketers?

“We have to get the drug out of society completely. The NDLEA must rise up to the occasion.

“Aside from Crystal meth, there is Codeine, Tramadol abuse, among other harmful substances widely used in this country today.”

Chairman, House Committee on Army, Abdulrazak Namdas, drew a link between drug abuse and the insecurity upsurges in Nigeria, a fact he said the NDLEA itself had since acknowledged.

Namdas observed that the war against drug abuse, trafficking or manufacturing was beyond the capacity of NDLEA alone to wage.

He added: “There has to be a synergy among all the security agencies to jointly attack the problem.

“We are talking about the youths; have we forgotten that many adults also abuse these drugs?

On its part, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has vowed to deal with anybody caught abusing the drug in the Southeast.

Its spokesman, Emma Powerful, who handed down the warning in a statement claimed that such drugs were alien to Igbo even as he alleged that it was a common factor in the northern part of the country.

“It is this same hard drug that renders Almajiris in the North useless, and we won’t allow this madness to creep in or fester among Biafran youths.

“IPOB hereby declare war against this nonsense. We shall go after those taking or distributing this harmful illicit drug. Henceforth, anyone found peddling, consuming or in any way involved in the distribution of this illicit drug shall be decisively dealt with.

“Biafran youths are known for their enterprising spirit, entrepreneurship and diligence. IPOB will not allow evil men and unpatriotic elements to ruin or destroy the future of our youths with mkpuru mmiri,” Powerful said.

But Governorship candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the recent Anambra governorship poll, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo said the issue goes beyond the beating of offenders by the communities.

Okonkwo who harped on the dangers of mkpuru mmiri during his campaigns urged that attention be shifted to rehabilitation.

He said: “I will advise all the town unions and traditional rulers in Igboland to call for meetings in their various domains, so that they can fashion out their peculiar ways to tackle the problem; so that the sale and consumption of this drug will be eradicated. This substance is like a plague projected by the devil to destroy our people. When the youths are addicted to this drug, it will certainly affect the lives of those who are not consumers. Every community must declare total war against crystal meth. If nothing is done about this menace, it means that between now and the next five years, Igbo people will probably have the largest number of made people in the country, and the world by extension.

“At the same time, if drastic action is not taken, within the period under review, many lives would have been lost; because, a drug addict is a destroyer and a killer. A person addicted to mkpuru mmiri is deadlier than the man holding a gun, because, a person with gun has a target; but for an addict, everybody is a target.

“Again, the town union alone cannot solve this problem. But they can arrest the addicts, punish them minimally and send them for rehabilitation. If any state does not have existing facility, they should set up one. Government cannot afford to fold their hands seeing the future leaders being wasted away.”

Experts proffer solution

Experts have described as laughable the flogging and physical torturing of users by the youths and vigilante groups, because it would not in any way help someone to quit the use of mkpuru mmiri.

They said that counselling and rehabilitations were the major ways out of it but unfortunately, there are very few rehab centres in the Southeast. Daily Sun gathered that the main rehabilitation centre in the region is the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu. There is also one in Udoka Estate, Awka. and another one at 3-3 Onitsha run by the NDLEA. It is noteworthy that the NDLEA maintains counselling and rehab centres in their state commands but the facilities are usually overstretched.

Other ways of quitting addiction are: lose the contacts of one’s suppliers, the withdrawal effects could be handled in the hospitals, while the person eats high fibre diets.

How neuropsychiatric hospital can help

Medical Director of Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Enugu, Monday Igwe, an Associate Professor, said the hospital was established to promote, prevent, treat and rehabilitate persons with mental ill-health.

Since drug use disorders are classified as mental disorder by the World Health Organization, he said its treatment falls within the domain of the conditions handled in the hospital.

Igwe, however, explained that drug use problem occurs in a spectrum ranging from use- abuse – dependence. According to him, those using or abusing drugs may benefit from lower level of care such as the drop-in centres established by UNODC across the states. Those who are dependent may require a multidisciplinary help, which their institution can provide.

He urged people to see drug menace as a disease model of addiction as against what most people believe is a ‘moral failure’.

Igwe said: “We also acknowledge the stigma associated with visiting psychiatric hospitals, this we know is a barrier to seeking help. The hospital is now trying to open community mental health services across the South East states. This will enable people access mental health services in their communities. We hope to intensify our effort in public mental health education.”

Daily Sun gathered that the institution is currently establishing 15 community mental health clinics, one in each Senatorial District of the five states.

By and large, the future seems unpromising and hopeless with the surge of vices as Nigerian youths are at the mercy of the influence of illegal stimulants.

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