Alhaji Fahad Ahmed-Chikaji, the Chief Executive Director, Arewa Youth Trust Foundation (AYTF), on Sunday urged parents to be mindful of bad peer group influence to prevent their children from indulging in drug abuse.
Ahmed-Chikaji stated this at a sensitisation workshop organised for youths in commemoration of “International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking” in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The sensitisation workshop is entitled: “Say No to Drug Abuse’’.
He observed that in most cases youths grew up as decent persons but engage in drug abuse as a result of peer group influence, adding that parents should be very careful and watchful.
He said: “As parents, we must be aware of our children might go out and relate with friends who do not have proper child upbringing.
“Parents must always say no to drug abuse by monitoring the movement of their children because some of the teenagers might get involved in such illicit act by attempting to experiment it.
“Some experiment drug abuse due to what they see on television, in movies and on social media especially when hanging out with friends at parties and concerts, among others.”
Ahmed-Chikaji said some youths became drug addict because they believed that others are doing it, why should they be different from their age mates, classmates or friends.
“They consider doing it because they think it will help them to belong, but instead of helping you fit in, drugs can actually destroy your friendships.
“Indulging in drugs can only lead to waste of time and money, leaving you with little to spend with your friends.
“You do not have to do the same thing with your friends but just endeavour to keep your relationship with others, quit the relationship whenever you see peers are trying to lead you astray,”
According to him, some youths used to say their lives are full of stress but drugs helps them cope and do away with such stress, saying that drugs is not the best way to deal with stress.
“It is pertinent to note that drugs change the way your brain works, which can lead to depression, anxietynand other mental illnesses.
“If you already have a mental health issue, drugs can worsen your condition, however, there are different ways to deal with stress without using drugs,” he said.
Ahmed-Chikaji advised the youths to try to identify the cause of stress and find a healthier way to handle such issues.
He recommended some of the methods to deal with stress as hanging out with friends who do not use drugs, doing something you enjoy doing like exercise, sports, art, music, meditation or yoga.
Others are watching television, surfing the web, reading books and sometimes seeking support and help of others to do away with stress.
“You can also talk to someone you can trust such as a therapist (mental health professional), a school guidance counsellor, a teacher or coach, your best friend, your parents or a telephone helpline.”
The foundation’s Programme Manager, Malam Ahmed Mohammed, observed that cannabis use that begins early in adolescence and frequently continues over time could lead to addiction.
“It is estimated that one in 11 cannabis users will develop an addiction to cannabis,” he said.
The Communication Officer of the foundation, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, also urged Nigerian youths to shun all forms of drug abuse.
Ibrahim called on the youths to value their lives, advising that as future leaders they should resolve to live a decent life to become useful to themselves, their families and the society at large.