Drop-in Centres in Nigeria: the Start-up

In Nigeria there is no reliable and comprehensive data on the extent of drug use, the number and type of users, as well as the numbers of people with drug use disorders.

The available data comes from a few hospital sources and some localized surveys and studies which indicate cannabis to be the most commonly used substance, with an increased use of heroin and cocaine since the mid-eighties. Treatment and continuing care are mainly based in hospitals, with few non-government organisations (NGOs) and faith-based organisations offering some services. In-patient and limited out-patient services are offered in most hospitals and drug units. These facilities often use the services of part-time psychiatrists, medical practitioners and psychologists. They offer a range of services including counselling, vocational and occupational rehabilitation, and in a few centres, psychotherapy. Informal treatment programmes based on religion also exist. Community-based treatment services in Nigeria are very limited and they tend to be in urban areas.
Output 3.5 of the project is designed to provide "direct support to civil society organizations networks working on drug prevention, treatment and care". In order to contribute to the achievement of this output and to meet the gaps in community based treatment availability, the project has sub-contracted CSOs to implement community based treatment.
In 2015 in a meeting of 45 CSO in the country the request for proposal for setting up of a drop in centres for drug users was announced. A selection process was then undertaken against established criteria. Five CSOs were successful.
A six day training course was then delivered to five workers from each of the successful CSO.
The primary target group comprises: people vulnerable to drug use; people who use drugs (including injecting drug users); and their partners and families.
The beneficiaries will be 200 people who use drugs and their partners and families in the identified local community setting. Through the provision of this service by these 5 CSOs we will be reaching the target of at least 1,000 drug users (including injectors) in Nigeria.

The programme kicked off in mid 2016 in all the drop-in-centres yielding positive results of the 5 CSOs running the drop in centre. One centre has now had 207 clients using their service. The other CSOs have been operational for approximately 3 months with the number of drug users using these services as at October 2016, ranging from 87 to 119. Many of the clients have been report they are poly-drug users with cannabis topping the list. In most instances, this is followed by heroin, with a smaller percentage using cocaine. Several injecting drug users are also presenting at the services.
Though many of the clients of these services have not altogether stopped their use of the drugs, many are committing to and actually reducing their intake of the drugs. These drop-in-centres are filling a much needed gap in providing free and easily accessible services for drug users. It is apparent that more of these centres are needed across the country. The project believes that the results of the national drug use survey, expected by mid 2017, will provide strong evidence to support the need for improved access to drug treatment services.