Stories of Hope: Responding to the Drug Use Epidemic in Nigeria: Series 4

Abuja, 15 May 2021-Dominic is a 31-year-old resident of Gudi community in Nasarawa State, Nigeria. Over several years, Dominic developed a multi-substance drug use disorder.

‘I started drinking alcohol for pleasure but with time I realized I could not go a day without taking alcohol” said Dominic.

His regular consumption of tramadol, cannabis, and alcohol became a burden to his family.

“Dominic does not want to be productive, rather he loves spending his time-consuming drugs. For over eight years, we have endured his wayward behaviour and we are tired of having him around” said Dominic’s father.

Dominic’s only source of consolation was his elder sister, Esther who continued to provide love, care, and support to Dominic. Esther believed that giving her support to Dominic could bring about a change in his behaviour.

“I do not stigmatize my brother due to his drug use problem. I advise and support him. I always caution my family that being harsh on him will cause him to do more [drugs]” said Esther.

The real turnaround came, however, after Dominic’s brother, Jonathan, attended a training organised by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with Family Health Care Foundation (FAHCI) with Funding from the European Union. This training on drug prevention, treatment, and care helped Jonathan to develop a new understanding and attitude towards Dominic and his addiction. After the training, “I reached out to my brother after four years of no communication”, said Jonathan.

This was a sign of hope for Dominic. Jonathan went home and encouraged other family members to help Dominic rather than neglect him. As a result, Dominic now spends more time with his family, and less with drug users. Dominic currently volunteers as a teacher at the Pilot Science Primary School in his community.

“I love the teaching opportunity and I am learning every day. I am moving forward with my employment goals and I am excited about what the future holds. I spend most of my time on productive work for my community” says Dominic.