‘Rejection forced me into drug addiction’

FRANKLIN IHEJIRIKA in this analysis, examines the consequences of drug trafficking, addiction and other related organized crimes and its devastating impact on the society vis-a-vis the confession of a drug addict, Gilbert Olumide Akerara to serve as a lesson for others.
Drug trafficking, addiction and other related crimes are the major problems facing many nations today. A substantial number of some countries’ population have been destroyed due to drug addiction and trafficking.
This in many situations has also led to insanity, death, armed robberies, spread of diseases and other social vices associated with drugs.
Nigeria no doubt has become a transit point from where drugs from South America and some other parts of Asia are trafficked to Europe and other Parts of Asia, no wonder there is no day or week that traffickers are not caught in the country’s airports with different quantities of drugs.
Among all these drugs, cocaine has a high price tag with a kilogramme selling around N10million making it a lucrative but risky business for traffickers while cannabis planted mostly in the South Western states of the country and some states in the South -South has become a menace to the society based on the dexterity of the farmers and their mode of operations.

Today many drug addicts roam the streets like Ikeja in Lagos looking sick and claiming to be sick, constituting nuisance to the environment by begging from one street to other in the guise that they are looking for money to buy their medication not knowing that they are hooked on drugs and looking for money to buy more drugs to continue in their addiction.
Some of the addicts look sick as a result of the excessive addiction of drugs while other are just close to madness as a result of drugs, in a situation they cannot get money to take the drugs, the result to begging, stealing, robbing people to but the drugs.
Some of these drugs include Cannabis sativa, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, Rephnol, volatile solvents, hallucinogens among others.
The experience of Gilbert Olumide Akerara who is now the founder of Gifted Hands Help Foundation, an ex drug addict is one that can teaches a whole lots to people on the dangers of drug addictions which has not benefit.
Olumide who shared his experience for others to learn from at the Media Round Table for Health Reporters organised by the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime, UNDOC –Implemented Response to Drugs and Related Organised Crime in Nigeria stated that he got addicted to drugs, precisely Marijuana in 1999 via peer pressure.
According to him, “ I was having problems with my first love in a club in Kaduna named, ‘Square Night Club’, she jilted me for my friend, I was actually feeling sad that day and two other friends of mine offered me a ‘Joint’ and I was glad to oblige them, though that wasn’t the first time of seeing them smoking ‘ganja’ or offering me which I always politely town down. But that particular day my state of mind was sad due to the break up with my girl friend , I wanted something that would lift my morale and after taking the first and second rap of joint, I was hooked, that was the genesis of my romance with illicit drug use.”
He explained further that, “ I went further to experiment with other drugs like volatile solvent, alcohol, hallucinogens, crystal-meth, Rephnol, crack-cocaine, and ecstasy but my preferred choice of hard drug then was marijuana, followed by crack- cocaine. I could smoke 30 raps in a day. It became a full time occupation. If I did not take ‘ganja’ in the morning, I will not eat because there would be no appetite for food except after smoking marijuana. Even if it is 3pm in the afternoon and for some reason whenever I have not smoked a ‘Joint’, I would not eat food till after I smoke a ‘Joint’. Sometimes I would have compulsive night vigil just smoking marijuana from 11pm to 5am in the morning. It got to a point in my life then that if you were not a drug user we could never have a rapport. Then in March 2002 after attempting suicide, I had my first psychiatric case and a file was opened for me at the federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital Kaduna. In November 2003 I was admitted in the same hospital for four months, in March 2004 I was discharged on parole and was sober for a full year, in which I rewrote my JAMB and WEAC and also enrolled for a lesson in Kaduna at Classic Tutors for tutorial classes in preparation for my exams.”
Olumide noted that the traffickers injecting themselves with the same needle when taking heroine in other to get the direct impact of the drug helps to spread diseases like HIV, and other forms of diseases.
Because at that particular moment, their thought is only how to get high and will not have the opportunity to look for another syringe and needle, he said.
He said based on the fact that the impact of using injection to inject the drugs into the body is felt immediately, drug addicts prefer this method.
Commenting on his JAMB and WEAC, Olumide emphasised that, “miraculously, I passed the two and gained admission to university of Abuja to study Sociology in January, 2006. In my first semester in school my GPA was 4.2 and I was relatively doing well not only in academics but in extra-curriculum activities on campus. But somehow I had relapsed into my old ways of illicit drug use by 2nd semester in 100 level, I was taken by the school authorities to Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital cause I had broken down physically, mentally and the dean of student affairs then who was Dr. Yusufu Zoaka, now an associate professor of political science, contacted my family in Kaduna and the school ambulance with school security personnel’s and armed policemen forcefully took me to Kaduna and admitted me at Federal Neuropsychiatric hospital with the consent of my parents. I spent three months in the hospital and I was discharged, after discharge, I attempted suicide with overdose of my medication and I was conscious and was also readmitted in the hospital of which I spent another three months, making the sum total of six months. In my life as an addict, I had three failed suicide attempts of which each I ended up in the hospital but somehow did not die, but I really meant it and wanted to die. It felt like the only way out of my misery, despair, woe, pains and hopelessness of a life of compulsive illegal drug use. I had been to several rehab centres during my days of addiction, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes coaxed and sometimes out rightly forced regardless of my own stands then even though I was above 18 years. I had been rehabilitated in Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Kaduna, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja. I was chained to my bed for two weeks. It was a terrible experience.”
Olumide concluded that, “I am presently writing a book titled Reconciliation, Restoration, and Redemption, A Tale of an Ex-Drug addict. It is about my life, my mistakes, my experiences, and Gods grace in turning everything around for good and giving me a second chance not only to be drug free but privilege to be helping others in the process of recovery, coping with cravings and dealing with relapse, I have seen it all and somehow, I came out of it triumphantly and victoriously with an NGO named Gifted Hands Foundation to help drug addicts, help orphans, widows, those sexually abused and the destitute.”

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