Piloting drug treatment and counseling in Nigerian prisons

UNODC is collaborating with the Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) to support the provision of treatment and counseling services for inmates with drug use problems in Nigerian prisons. This initiative is part of activities under the European Union funded project, Response to Drugs and Related Organized Crime in Nigeria, being implemented by UNODC.

The pilot program is expected to commence in one prison in September 2015 and lessons from the pilot will be applied to scale up services to other prisons in the country. Under the initiative, UNODC will provide multi-level support for drug dependence treatment, including, among others, sensitization activities, training of staff, including doctors and counselors, upgrade of a "halfway home" for prisoners who have been through the drug treatment program, and development of a drug dependence treatment model. The staff who will be trained under the program will in turn train other staff in their respective prisons.

To ensure standardization of services, in line with international best practices, UNODC and FMOH are currently working with the NPS health and welfare department to develop a treatment model based on approaches that have worked in prison settings in other countries. "Just doing things is not enough; we really need to do things that are evidence-based. In developing a model for drug treatment in Nigerian prisons we are considering what works and what does not work in other prison settings and adapting these to local conditions," said Kevin Knight, a leading expert in the provision of drug treatment services and a UNODC consultant helping to develop the treatment model.

In 2014, UNODC conducted a rapid assessment of selected prisons in Nigeria, which examined available services, health and living conditions, inflow and outflow of inmates, and other parameters. Among other issues, the assessment revealed overcrowding in some prisons, poor health and infrastructure facilities and non-availability of treatment services for drug abuse related problems. It recommended that drug use treatment services be introduced as part of the existing healthcare services.  According to Dr. Adewale Oloyede, a former Comptroller-General of Prisons and a consultant with UNODC who undertook the assessment, "Possession and use of narcotics is forbidden in the prison but sometimes hard drugs get smuggled into the prison. There are also inmates who had drug abuse problems before being admitted into the prison. It is therefore necessary to target drug demand reduction services at prison inmates. Except for occasional health talks on drug abuse, there is no specialized program that addresses drug abuse in Nigerian prisons."

For more information, please contact:

James Ayodele, Outreach and Communications Officer, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Tel: 234 701 683 9159, 234 802 976 8649, E-mail: james.ayodele@unodc.org