Dr Dokun Adedeji was very enthusiastic about giving this interview. We just got settled into the CADAM office in Ikeja when he began to pour his heart out. A retired medical practitioner who had a glowing career with Cadbury Nigeria talks fiercely about his lifelong passion-rehabilitating drug addicts. A passion he has immersed himself in for 23 years(and counting) with local and international awards, he sat down with real woman Africa to expose some truths about this serious issue.
How did you get involved in drug rehabilitation?
I need to say this. I think it’s divine. I never smoked or drank. I was very rascally in medical school. A lot of my friends died in the process and I didn’t die. It didn’t bother me until I became a Christian (i.e. born again) in 1991. I said ‘God there must be a reason why you kept me’. I wanted to know why He kept me. In 1992 thereabout, I was in Church. The pastor was preaching, he said something about a ministry called Drug Addict Rehabilitation Ministry and who ever wanted to join should raise his hands. I raised my hands , he said wait after service. I waited. We were not more than 6.They began to talk and I got engaged. I said to myself,’ this is wonderful’. That was how I became a member of the ministry. Thereafter, we changed the name to CADAM-Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry because Christ is the element of change that I see there. If we left it as Drug Addict Rehabilitation Ministry it would be stigmatising. Since 1993, I have been the National Coordinator. We have done a lot of good things, all thanks to God. That’s how I got into drug rehab. It came naturally-the discussions, actions and activities. Then God said, ’now you understand why I saved you’. Believe me that is the only thing that has kept me. I don’t get paid for it. We don’t make noise about it. It’s not a ministry of noise making, it’s a ministry of doing stuff. He has really kept me and allowed me actualise my medical practise. This has given me the opportunity to understand people and know why people do the things they do and we need to engage families.
How bad is the Drug Problem?
I must say, the very pathetic case for me is that people don’t believe it’s a problem. It breaks my heart because I know what I see in the joints, in the centers. We have 3 centers,2 for men,1 for women. Anytime we are have an interview (for new intakes) over a 100 young people come and we can’t take 100. We can only take about 60. So what happens to the 40? If I tell you my knowledge about the number of young people that take drugs you would be shocked.
An estimate from field experience, out of 10 students,8 probably would be taking drugs.
We know as a matter of fact at least 25% of young people have used drugs one way or the other within the context of 1 year and the numbers are increasing. Right now we work with 8 Nigerian universities who send their students to us for rehab,upon our recommendation they take them back to school and let them graduate if they don’t continue. Some of the students tell me stuff. I have been to some of these schools and many of the authorities have called me to say they have found drugs ,and some people confess.To say 8 out of 10 might be a guestimate and under the bed. That is how huge the problem is. There is a proliferation of drug joints,at least Lagos I know.I can tell you that it’s across the country.
I got information recently that in the north,codeine is a huge problem even amongst married women not to mention young people. You see, they have found various ways of serving these things. Codeine for instance, they put it in fura de nunu . They sell it in zobo and all those things, people buy. People who buy from those who hawk it know what they are buying.
Let me give an example of what students do. They drink benylin with codeine neat. Anyone that has codeine derivative- benylin with codeine, tutulin, pakalin, emzolyn, any of those ones, coflin. They either drink it neat or they buy pepsi/coke/lacasera. They pour a bit of coke away and put 2/3 bottles of codeine. When they carry it, you would think they are drinking coke. Which means they can drink it in the house and no one would be the wiser. Many prescription drugs today are being abused. Tramadol, is being abused. Injection pentasozine is being abused. Particularly by sicklers. I have seen some sicklers who are drug addicts because a doctor prescribed injection pentasozine and they liked it. And thereafter they buy it. You know here you can buy any drug across the counter. Those are huge issues for Nigeria.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A YOUNG PERSON/MARRIED WOMAN TURN TO DRUGS?
For young people experimentation.Peer pressure, low self esteem.Many, disrupted family issues.That is major. What parents don’t know is this,because from my experience, the child looks normal at home.
What parents do is they bribe their children with gifts,cars,taking them on summer vacation but they don’t engage them.
Let me give you an example from a practical case I’m handling. This boy’s issue started in primary school. It didn’t start with drugs. He wanted to go a particular school different from what his parents wanted. He resented it but no one gave him a chance because he was just about 11 years. He went to school. He had guardian. His guardian beat him one day, gave him about 80 strokes because of a minor misdemeanour. The guy was mad. He was sulking. His parents came to visit at weekend, no body asked him why he was crying. Everyone just thought it was a normal thing and he said to himself ‘ you my dad, I’m going to show you’. He was 11 or 12 years old. By the time he was leaving secondary school he said he wanted to go to a particular university. His Fath discouraged the idea. That was how it started , he went into drugs. Very bright boy,very smart.Eventually he dropped out of school after part 3. Now,he’s in his 20’s. He is floating. He was refered to me. His Father spoke to me,he was there. I asked the father to excuse us for a while. When he began to speak, I asked him ‘did you tell your parents?’ He said ‘I haven’t told them’.When the Father came I told him.’ Do you know why this guy is doing this?.No body cares. You only cared about what you wanted for him. You never asked what he wanted for himself.
Mistake most parents make. They think they know what is good for their kids. I understand that. But do we discuss? Do we let them make choices even when they make errors do we help them to get up? Or we do’ Ah you, see your brother, he’s doing well’. I need parents to be more aware of their parental responsibilities. People say things like’ both parents are working. I don’t have a problem with it but I think a woman must choose a vocation/profession that allows her time with her kids.
There was this particular woman I met at a school I was invited to speak. After I left the woman ran after me and said ‘why are you talking about me?’ I said ‘I don’t even know you, I have never met you before’. She said because everything I spoke about referred to her. She said she has 3 kids. She was a stay at home mum for a while but got bored with it. She eventually got a job in a bank. One day, she fell ill, they gave her 3 days off. From the office, she came home. When they were going to pick the kids, she went with the driver. The children were surprised. Next morning, afternoon she went to pick them. The children said’ Mummy there must be something wrong? Why are you coming with the driver? The next morning the last child wanted to pray during devotion, he said’ God, We don’t know what you have done to mummy, please continue to do it’.They never saw her before during daytime. The woman was shocked. After I spoke she said she was going to resign that day.
We think children below 6 are young. They maybe young but they are mentally aware.They understand what parental relationship should be. They want to cuddle mummy and daddy. And they are not there.They brought one boy from Calabar, the Father is a Professor, mother a medical doctor.When this boy came, at age 18,you could see anger on his face. The Father wanted to speak, the boy cut him short shouting’ what do you want to say? Now you want to talk? When i needed you where were you?Mummy on night duty,Father in the study saying ‘can’t you see im preparing for lectures tomorrow’.
No body was talking to him. These kids when we think they are stubborn,they are asking for help. ‘I need someone to talk to’. Thats why they are craving your attention. Thats why when they do some things don’t necessarily see it as wrong, see it as an action saying ‘I need to be corrected,I need direction, I need help.We’ve got problems here. So when you see that in young people those are some of the reasons why.How much do parents know about drugs?
Do you know they can smoke in your house and they go and buy it and you wouldn’t know.They way they speak/their coded language. If they want to buy marijuana they say……There’s a lot more to share from Dr Dokuns Interview. More this weekend!TO BE CONTINUED