Akwa Ibom first lady advocates support, discourages stigmatisation of drug abuse victims

Wife of Akwa Ibom State Governor, Pastor Patience Eno, has advocated for adequate care and support for victims of drug abuse, emphasizing that it would facilitate proper rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Mrs Eno made this advocacy on Monday during the commemoration of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Uyo.

She strongly condemns the stigmatization of individuals grappling with drug abuse, deeming it archaic and ineffective in curbing the menace. Instead, she believes that such stigmatization may exacerbate the condition of victims, leading to depression and even death.

As the Chairperson of the Akwa Ibom State Drug Control Committee, the First Lady stressed that drug abuse could be reduced and prevented by equipping youths with accurate information about illicit drugs.

“We must focus on educating our youth, empowering them with accurate information, and equipping them with life skills to resist the temptation of abusing drugs,” she stated.

Mrs Eno emphasized the need for unity, awareness-raising, and effective solutions to address the stigma and discrimination associated with substance abuse. She called for comprehensive prevention programs that encompass school-based initiatives, community outreach, and targeted campaigns addressing the root causes of drug abuse.

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“To strengthen prevention efforts, collaboration is required among the government, CSOs, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders. We must invest in accessible and evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation services that prioritize the well-being of those affected by substance abuse,” Mrs Eno emphasized.

The First Lady highlighted the detrimental effects of stigmatization and discrimination, as they hinder victims of drug abuse from seeking help. She underscored the importance of comprehensive prevention and rehabilitation programs and called for collaboration among stakeholders to implement evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation strategies.

Mrs Eno applauded her predecessor, Dr Martha Emmanuel, for the achievements made while chairing the committee. She also commended the state command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for their efforts in combating drug-induced crimes. She urged everyone to join hands with the committee to combat the menace of stigmatization and discrimination.

Deputy Governor of the state, Senator Akon Eyakenyi, stressed the need to extend the campaign against illicit substance use to secondary schools, tertiary institutions, churches, and markets to increase awareness at all levels. She assured that the government would support efforts aimed at safeguarding the mental and physical health of the people of Akwa Ibom in line with the ARISE Agenda of the present administration.

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The State Commandant of NDLEA, Mrs Obot Bassey, provided statistics on drug abuse and illicit trafficking, reporting that the agency had arrested 600 drug offenders, convicted about 180, rehabilitated 29, and successfully reintegrated them into society between May 2021 and 2023.

The highlight of the event was the decoration of the governor’s wife, Pastor Patience Umo Eno, as the Ambassador of NDLEA by the State Commandant.


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