The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Thursday launched a toll-free drug abuse call centre in Abuja.
Speaking at the launch, Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Brig Gen Buba Marwa Rtd, said the provision of the toll-free helpline is a milestone in their resolve to broaden access to quality health care for drug users in the country.
This, he said, has become a necessity and a strategic intervention in the determined effort to bring the increasing cases of drug use disorder and related health concerns under control.
He explained that the centre will receive calls from the toll free number: 080010203040 in English, Pidgin, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo languages with dedicated and well-trained psychologists.
Marwa said though the country has treatment centres, while NDLEA has 26 treatment facilities across its commands, they are nevertheless grossly inadequate in the face of statistics of drug users and those suffering from drug use disorder
According to him, “the provision of this toll-free helpline is a milestone in our resolve to broaden access to quality health care for drug users in the country. This has become a necessity and a strategic intervention in our determined effort to bring under control the increasing cases of drug use disorder and related health concerns.
“NDLEA recognised the importance of providing a safety bubble for users who ordinarily cannot access the conventional treatment services at established rehabilitation centres due to poverty, social stigma and the resultant discrimination attached to being an identified drug user in society, among other factors. Therefore, the inevitability and the utility of a toll-free helpline that guarantees anonymity, confidentiality and safety, as a motivation for those in need of health help to freely seek such.
“The NDLEA Call Centre is manned by a team of licensed and credible clinical psychologists, counsellors, support workers and mental health professionals who would provide the needed support in aiding recovery, managing social and emotional problems, improving quality of life and enhancing performance and productivity of the users of the service. With its state-of-the-art equipment and its team of highly trained professionals in substance abuse disorder, this centre offers a teletherapy service according to global best practices.
“The benefit of the Call Centre is manifolds. Aside from helping us in providing telephone-based psychosocial support and addiction services in the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), it will at the same time provide us with information that will deepen our understanding of the country’s dynamics of drug use and potentially put us ahead of the game.
“To those in need of help, we open a new chapter today, whereby help is just a phone call away. We have simplified the helpline service by making it language-sensitive whereby callers have the choice of language including English, Pidgin, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. And very importantly, the helpline is open 24/7. A call to the helpline, 0800 1020 3040, elicits a prompt response from professionals, regardless of the time or geographic location.
“The calls open the door to engagements with counsellors, followed by service orientation that leads to case management, at which point the engagement moves from telephone assessment to follow-up therapy sessions and referral. This seamless process ends in Resolution and Aftercare Follow-Up. Given the simplicity of the process, there is no valid excuse for not accessing treatment by drug users and their concerned families. We expect those concerned to take advantage of this opportunity.”
In his remark, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) represented by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Muhammed Abubakar, urged the NDLEA to open such centres across the six geo-political zones.
Also, UNODC country representative, Oliver Stolpe, and European Union delegation representative, Eleni Zerzerlidou, commended the NDLEA for the initiative and called for its expansion and sustenance.