Drug Abuse: Physicians Meet to Proffer Solution

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Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFON) has stressed
the need for collaborative efforts to fight the scourge of drug abuse on families and the nation at large.

Its President, Dr Nnaedozie Obiegbu, said this at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday
ahead of the society’s 22nd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference that would commence on Nov. 22.

Obiegbu said that the effects of hard drugs had contributed to mental ill-health, poor education, as well as addiction among
youths in the society.

He added that “the leading cause of death among people between 15 and 24 years of age is violence, including accidents,
homicide and suicide; many of these deaths can be attributed to the use of drugs and alcohol.’’

According to him, persons between 18 and 25 years of age are most likely to use illicit drugs, which he described as
powerful indicator of later alcohol and drug problems.

The SOFON president noted that people of all ages, sexes, ethnic and socio-economic groups could engage in drug abuse.

He stressed the role of physicians toward diagnosis and treatment of addiction problems, and charged them to be familiar with
the signs and symptoms of abuse to enable them to provide effective therapy for acute intoxication and withdrawal symptoms.

He said “the upcoming 22nd AGM and Scientific Conference will help to provide information about help in recognition of
addiction, guidelines for treatment of intoxication and withdrawal of various drug abuse and techniques for brief intervention,
as well as long term care of substance-abusing patients.’’

Obiegbu also advised that the management of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases below 40 years
should be done with lower glucose medication, omega 3 fatty acids and statin usage according to the recent guidelines for risk management.

He added that a new class of drugs for the treatment of diabetes mellitus had also been developed to address co-morbid considerations and to give priority to cardio protective drugs.

The physician, however, stressed the importance of exercise, low saturated fat diet and lipid management and other lifestyle medication as part of treatment.

He said “there is increased recognition of the relationship between substance use disorders and other common chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus.’’

He added that the SOFON conference would provide platform to highlight latest advances in technology, clinical applications and practice for physicians across the nation.

Dr Blessing Chukwukelu, the Chief Consultant Family Physician, Eko Hospitals, Lagos, listed sleeplessness, poor concentration and performance, criminal tendencies, poor behaviour,
improper dressing, shabbiness as some symptoms drug abusers might exhibit.

Dr Musa Dankyau, the Vice President of SOFON, noted that questionnaires and equipment could be used to determine drug abuse among users.

He said “we use questionnaire to find out if one is abusing substances such as alcohol.

“We also use complicated equipment that are used in labs, some are basic and can be taught to police officers to do it when they find someone
driving erratically such as breath test for alcohol, while other test requires urine samples.

“Blood sample, saliva or hair can also be used to test for cannabis, Indian hemp, certain opioids, sedative-hypnotics and others.’’

Dr Achiaka Irabor, the Secretary General of the society, advised parents to be united, communicate more with their children, as well as
encourage them to make right decisions, rather than force their own views on children to curb drug abuse.


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