Overview of the Drug Addiction Problem in Nigeria


Nestled deep in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria has attracted international attention for the worldwide criminal activities that emanate from this central point. A seemingly endless succession of fraudulent offers called “419” scams (referring to the local legal code that forbids this type of activity) sent by email have relieved susceptible people around the world of more than $100 million and resulted in more than a dozen deaths. And Nigerian criminals have established drug trafficking conduits that stretch around the world, trafficking heroin from Asia to Europe and South American drugs to the U.S, Europe, and Asia.

Political and Civil Instability Allowed the Establishment of Criminal Organizations

In the first two decades after Nigeria gained its independence, drug trafficking activities were rare. But things began to change in the 1980s. Indian heroin began to be funneled through Nigeria on its way to Europe. The criminal groups handling these wares soon forged alliances with South American illicit drug manufacturers and added cocaine to the drugs they were distributing.

In the 1990s, these criminal groups became more sophisticated. Cannabis began to be produced within Nigeria, and psychotropic drugs were added to the list of trafficked products. Trafficking channels became more complex and methods of moving drugs more diverse.

Statistics on drug seizures within the country show exactly when the Nigerian criminal groups achieved explosive expansion. In 1999, 16,000 kilograms of cannabis herb and 15.6 kg of cocaine were seized; in 2000, this figure leapt to 272,000 kg of cannabis and 54 kg of cocaine. In 2007, the rate of marijuana seizure landed Nigeria in the number four spot after the U.S., Mexico and Bolivia.

Nigerian Couriers Arrested in Drug Busts Around the World

A review of drug seizures in the first half of 2009 show that Nigerians are still frequently arrested for drug trafficking incidents around the world. In India, Pakistan, Malta, Spain, and other countries, Nigerians are swallowing cocaine or heroin packages, hiding it in their luggage or concealing it in their clothes. Nigerian criminal groups are also coercing gullible young people or prostitutes into transporting or shipping drugs to other countries. As recently as 1984, drug trafficking was a capital offense in Nigeria but public outcry caused a repeal of this law.

But the quantity of drugs seized from these couriers was usually small, under ten pounds in most cases. Somehow the larger traffickers, the ones moving multi-ton quantities, don’t seem to be apprehended. According to some analysts, Nigeria was the original core of drug trafficking activity in Western Africa. Over time, it has involved its neighboring countries in the activity, spreading the affliction to Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Cape Verde, Togo, Gambia and Sierra Leone.

Nigerian citizens are often found to be involved in drug trafficking inside the U.S., mostly in Eastern and Northeastern cities. They are also detected moving multi-ton quantities of drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Drug Treatment Scene in Nigeria

Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse Figures are Largely Unavailable

There’s really very little information on how many drug users there are in Nigeria. The United Nations reported only 925 people received treatment in 2004, this being the most recent figure available. Nearly 90 percent of these addicts in drug treatment programs were being helped with cannabis addiction. The other drugs sending people to drug rehabilitation were pharmaceutical depressants, inhalants, amphetamine-type drugs, opiates (nearly always heroin) and cocaine.

With a total population of 149 million in Nigeria, it is very likely that there are many thousands of people who are addicted to the substances flowing through the country who are not receiving any type of treatment.

Narconon Nigeria Drug Prevention

In November 2009, a Narconon drug educator joined with government officials and educators to bring a drug-free message to youth. The occasion was the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Organized by Narconon Nigeria, the public lectures held in Lagos brought together the Representative of Oshodi-Isolo Federal Constituency 1, a lecturer from the Department of Political Science in the Lagos State University, a representative of the Daystar Christian Centre and the Executive Director of the local Narconon drug education and prevention office. Together, these concerned public service officials spread the message that a drug-free life is the best kind of life.

In other events, government officials team up with Narconon Nigeria drug educators to visit secondary schools to continue the anti-drug and anti-addiction education. If Nigerian children learn to make drug-free decisions, then the entire country benefits from having an ever-increasing drug-free population.

The closest Narconon drug rehabilitation center is in Egypt. You can also find Narconon rehab facilities across Europe, including the UK.

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