UNODC Urges Nigeria to Adopt Evidence-Based Drug Prevention … Projects 40% increase in drug use in Africa by 2030

Oru Leonard 

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has called for urgent and evidence-based measures to tackle drug abuse in Nigeria. Speaking at a press briefing ahead of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, celebrated annually on June 26, the UNODC Deputy Country Representative, Mr. Danilo Campisi emphasized the need for scientifically-backed strategies to address the growing drug problem.

The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day, aims to promote global cooperation and action towards a drug-free world. This year’s theme, “The evidence is clear, let us invest in prevention,” is particularly relevant for Nigeria, where youth drug use is alarmingly high. According to the 2019 National Drug Use Survey, drug use prevalence in Nigeria stands at 14.4 percent, three times the global average, with the highest rates among those aged 25 to 39.

Projections indicate a 40% increase in drug use in Africa by 2030, primarily due to the continent’s youthful population. Highlighting these statistics, the UNODC representative described the situation as a “national emergency” and urged Nigeria to prioritize preventive measures based on scientific evidence.

One of the key programs highlighted was UNPLUGGED, a school-based drug prevention initiative developed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education and supported by the MTN Foundation. Implemented in 110 Unity Schools and several states, including Kebbi, Bayelsa, and Kaduna, the program has shown significant success in reducing substance use among students and improving their academic performance. However, the UNPLUGGED program currently reaches only 2 percent of the school population, prompting calls for broader adoption by state governments and private schools.

In addition to UNPLUGGED, the UNODC has piloted other effective programs in Nigeria. These include the Strengthening the Family Programme and Strong Families, which focus on building family resilience against substance use, and Line Up Live Up (LULU), a sports-based prevention program targeting out-of-school youth. Another initiative is the Drug Education for School Children program, aimed at sensitizing young students about the dangers of drug use.

The UNODC representative concluded by acknowledging the European Union’s support in adapting and evaluating the UNPLUGGED program in Nigeria and reaffirming the UNODC’s commitment to providing technical and normative support for these evidence-based prevention and treatment programs.

Source: (

Leave a Reply