The drug problem is a global plague, affecting both developed and developing nations. Over the past decades, there have been global efforts in combating the physical, psychological and social-economic maladies associated with illicit drug use and trafficking. Such efforts address the problem through supply suppression and demand reduction activities.

Supply suppression aims at reducing the availability of illicit and controlled drugs through various interdiction activities and legal processes. Here, the drug problem is seen as a criminal activity. Demand reduction programmes, on the other hand, focus on bringing about a decline in the consumption of these substances, as well as effective treatment, aftercare, rehabilitation and social reintegration of drug dependent persons. This aspect of the drug problem is addressed as a health issue and is not to be criminalised.

Successive Government in Nigeria has put in place various Legislations against the abuse and trafficking in narcotic drugs and Psychotropic Substances. At the International scene, Nigeria has been a signatory to numerous bilateral and multilateral treaties as well as United Nations Conventions on Drug Control including the 1988 United Nations Convention against illicit traffic in Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. In line with this and public outcry by Nigerians of the damaging effects of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking, the Federal Government of Nigeria established the NDLEA via Decree 48 of 1989 (Now CAP N30 LFN 2004).

The NDLEA Act stated specifically that for the effective conduct of the functions of the Agency, there shall be established the following units:
  (a) general and assets investigation unit;
  (b) prosecution unit; and
  (c) counselling unit (Now Drug Demand Reduction Directorate)    

The counselling unit shall, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, have responsibility for:
  (a) campaigns, seminars and workshops aimed at educating the public on the dangers of narcotic drugs and       psychotropic substance thereby stimulating interest in and awareness about drug related problems;
  (b) after care rehabilitation, social reintegration and education of addicts;
  (c) the promotion of the welfare of convicts.

Part 1 section 3 of the act further explained the functions of drug demand reduction to include among others:
  (a) adoption of measures to eradicate illicit cultivation of narcotic plants and to eliminate illicit demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances with a view to reducing human suffering and eliminating financial incentives for illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances;
  (b) the facilitation of rapid exchange of scientific and technical information and the conduct of research geared towards eradication of illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances;
  (c) reinforcing and supplementing the measures provided in the Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
  (d) collaborating with government bodies both within and outside Nigeria carrying on functions wholly or in part analogous to those of the Agency.

Goals of Drug Demand Reduction

In Summary, the Goals of Drug Demand Reduction are:

i.   To reduce the availability and overall demand for illicit drugs.
ii.  To provide factual information to all and sundry (especially those in the high risk group) on the attendant problems of drug abuse and trafficking.
iii. To teach personal skills needed to avoid drug abuse.
iv.  To help those abusing drugs to overcome their dependency and reduce the risk they pose to themselves and others, with the ultimate aim of achieving a drug free and acceptable way of life.
v.   To ensure proper re-integration and adjustment of treated drug dependent persons into their families and communities.
vi.  To build institutional capacity for effective drug data collection and research activities.
vii.  To de-emphasize the criminality of drug abuse.
viii. To ensure proper training/development and utilisation of drug demand reduction personnel.
ix.    To ensure community mobilisation and participation in the design, formulation, implementation and evaluation of preventive drug abuse education in order to effectively address incidence of drug abuse and trafficking in Nigeria.
x.    To increase the level of awareness about treatment and rehabilitation centres and improve the operational capacity of the centres to provide good service.

Drug Demand Reduction Activities

Drug Demand Reduction is a major statutory responsibility of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency. In line with this and to achieve the broad goals of drug demand reduction, three mutual and complementary units discharge the responsibilities. These are:

1. Research and NGO Liaison
2. Drug Abuse Preventive Education
3. Treatment and Rehabilitation

Research and NGO Liaison

Research is a systematic and scientific way of gathering, collating, processing and analyzing information or facts about an event or process in order to understand, predict, modify or control the event or process.  A clear understanding of the nature and extent of the drug problem is the most important and first step in dealing with it. Therefore, objective and valid research is a necessary aspect of any meaningful effort at addressing the problem. In line with this, the responsibility of this unit includes:
i.    Determining the types of drugs commonly abused, the magnitude, nature and extent of the problem, including the percentage of various segments of the populace in drug problem, as well as demographic characteristics of abusers.
ii.    Determining the physical, social and psychological problems associated with the drug abuse problems e.g., mental illness, traffic accidents, family disintegration, etc.
iii.    Establishing the level of violence associated with drug abuse problem e.g., arson, assassinations, suicides, rape, armed robbery, secret cults, political hooliganism and thuggery, ethnic/communal clashes, etc.
iv.    Assisting in planning so as to enable appropriate utilization of available resources.
v.    Evaluating measures put in place to combat the menace of drug abuse.
vi.    Regular update of treatment and rehabilitation facilities available.
vii.    Determining the Socio-economic and cultural factors for the abuse and dealing in drugs.

The department collaborates with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in drug demand reduction activities in the country with a view to achieving the Agency’s goals. The Agency collaborates with the following NGO’s to achieve the broad goals of drug demand reduction in Nigeria.

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