Drug abuse has become a major problem within the African community. It is not only limited to a law and order issue but has become a medical epidemic in most African countries.  In Nigeria specifically, the burden of drug abuse is on the rise constantly and has developed a reputation as a centre for drug trafficking and usage, especially among the young population. In 2018, the first ever nationwide drug use survey found that one out of seven people in Nigeria have used drugs. Drug use has not been limited to itself, but has been the cause of several drug related offenses such as theft, prostitution, and shoplifting as well.

The Increasing Burden of Drugs in Nigeria

Nigeria is an extremely diverse country with several ethnicities and religions living within a boundary. Due to the multicultural nature, drug abuse has different reactions. For most communities, drugs that do not cause overt behavioral changes are not a cause for worry. Despite this, there is constant outcry from various intellectual groups regarding the increasing problem of drug abuse. Several efforts are being made globally and within the country to curb drug related menace. The Nigerian Government and the National Drug Law enforcement Agency through their policies have tried to nip the problem in its bud. However, the numbers have still been on the rise. The problem is more commonly seen in the pre to post adolescent group, who get into this habit trying to experiment in their young age and sustain it as a form of relieving stress. The use of hard drugs and alcohol and tobacco at early stages make them more prone to addiction.

The problem is not just limited to men and young boys. Even women have fallen into the pitfalls of drug use. Approximately, one out of four substance abusers is a woman. This is higher than the global average of 5.3 per cent. The drug consuming population is higher than entire populations of some European countries. As more people are becoming more aware of the pitfalls of drug abuse and people seeing their loved ones suffer and eventually die, they are becoming more towards helping to put a stop to this problem. Many social organizations and at an individual level have tried to create awareness against drug use.

Music for a Cause

One of the most effective ways however has been the use of music. All over the world, we see several musicians take up a stance against drugs and create music that encourages people to say no to drugs. In fact, Brazil’s Music Festival Porão Do Rock (Rock Basement) had teamed up with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)in 2018 to start a “Turn on Music, Turn off Drugs” campaign that was a huge success. The campaign was spread through musicians, postcards, posters, banners, and art to concert goers. The aim was to use music as an effective tool to send a preventative message to youth (the key demographic for both concerts and drug abuse) to stop and avoid the use of legal and illegal drugs. Music has always been considered a progressive method to address social issues in the world.

In Nigeria as well, MTN, a leading African Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Company launched an Anti-Substance Abuse Program or ASAP in 2018. It also recognized the power of music and collaborated with the famous Nigerian actor, music producer and singer David Jones David to spread their message via music. ASAP primarily focused on discouraging first time drug use in people. The age group of 10 to 25 understands the language of music like no other. However, it proved a bit challenging to create music on a topic that people of this age showed no interest in. This is where DJD created songs that spread the message in an effective way. Through Davids Songs List, stories about the perils of drug abuse were disseminated. The songs became quite popular and became an anthem of sorts in anti-drug moments in Nigeria. Because of his strong online presence and popularity, it became easier for him and the MTN team to promote the songs on social media platforms to a wide range of audiences.

Through movements like these, the anti-drug revolution in the country. Music continues to draw followers, especially young adults. As musicians are very popular and bring large crowds together, it becomes an effective tool to spread the word against drug use. Music is often linked to the increase in drug use among young adults; it need not be that way. If music can draw people towards drug abuse, it can also be used to push people away as well

By Rajat

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