A summary of our IG Live discussion with Hajiya Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya and Mr. Kelvin Murphy on our series on MotherHood to NationHood;

With the rise in the rate of drug abuse all around the world, it has become imperative that we talk about how to manage the situation this time not for children but for parents that abuse drugs; what measures can be put in place in a society like Nigeria to handle this situation.

According to a drug view survey in the year 2019, over 14.3 million Nigerians are involved in the abuse of drugs and other hard substances; one in seven persons aged 15-64 years had used a drug (other than tobacco and alcohol) in the past year. Among every 4 drug users in Nigeria 1 is a woman, the drugs abused ranges from cannabis which is popularly known in Nigeria as “ganja, kpoki” to others such as opium, tranquilizers, cocaine, ecstasy, solvents and inhalers etc.

The social causes of the use of drugs are a disruption in family lives, loss in productivity and legal problems, depression, frustration etc. The aim of this IG live is to create not just awareness about drug abuse but also to proffer help and solutions for the children caught in the quagmire of parents that are addicted to drugs.

In his response to the question on how he deals with parents who are on drugs in the United State, he explained that the first part is to break the circle of addiction and abuse; the addiction has already taken place and is affecting the child and inordinately the environment. When parents or children are addicted to a substance, what we need to understand is that “it is a disease and it is treatable”. In the United States, there are programs that these families can enroll in to help them and these programs are family oriented. The children needs to understand that the parent/s is ill and it can be treated, the child is not secluded and would undergo programs that would help him/her understand that it is not his fault, sometimes, the child may have to be removed from the home when there is a threat to the life of the child.

How do you get notifications of situation of drug abuse in a home?

Mr. Murphy explained that there are processes and investigations that they follow, except there is a threat to life and to others, no one is removed from their homes, and of course the addicts also get tested and could be court ordered to go into a program just in case they refuse.

How do you explain to a child that their parents are sick?


There are programs to help the child, the first step is to help the child understand that their family member is sick and the second is to make them understand that it is not their fault and so they should not feel guilty or withdraw from others for fear and ridicule. The third is to help them understand that there are safe people to talk to like the teachers, school nurses etc, someone they can open up to without them thinking they are “snitching” on their parents and lastly, group therapy where they can meet children in their age grades handling the same challenges.


Can you share your success story in handling these families?


He narrated an event about a family that were living in the woods where both parents were addicts, the son was nine years old; working with them, he had to prioritise what their greatest need is, which for them was housing, they wanted to get better but they didn’t know what to do, they were coached through a substance abuse clinic and the son was also assisted with group counseling and individual therapy, of course the boy was affected at first and he was reserved and withdrawn but as he continued with his therapy, he got better and his parents got weaned of the addiction.

Sharing on how the United States arrived at an effective drug control system, he explained that there are communities without government support but they have collectively come together as a community to create that which is meaning, this includes, social amenities, counseling groups in different religious centres and schools, shelters and free kitchens. These communities are not waiting for the government but taking the lead by fixing the situation, they also collaborate with civil societies and Non-governmental organizations and this is one thing Nigerian communities should emulate.


What roles should fathers play in the care of a child?


Mr. Murphy continued; having a father in the household is very beneficial to every child; the issue with drug abuse is not about how long the drug is in the body but the behavior that sticks.

Family is a team work; each person has a role to play.



  1. Synanpse services limited; location: Abuja, Lagos.
  2. House of Refuge foundation: location; Lagos.
  3. Newlife Hospital and Rehabilitation centre
  4. Guiding light foundation, location; Rivers state
  5. Placid-way Global Medical Solutions; Location, Lagos
  6. Anti-Narcotics Revolutionary chaplaincy, Location; Abuja
  7. Olive prime psychological services; location, Abuja
  8. A& D referral services; location, Abuja



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