Lagos - Ahmadu Giade, Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Thursday said the agency had launched an Online Anti-drug Abuse and Trafficking Counseling Service to rehabilitate addicts.
This is contained in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) signed by Mitchel Ofoyeju, Head of Public Affairs of the agency.
In the statement, Giade said about 21,634 persons had benefited from the NDLEA offline counseling services nationwide between 2010 and 2014.
“Online counseling service will complement existing offline counseling platforms across our formations nationwide.
"We introduced online counseling to provide our services to people, especially youth, in the comfort of their homes.
"Besides, it is easy to access, providing clients greater comfort and convenience.
"The confidentiality involved also makes whoever is seeking information to be open-minded and bond easily with counselors.
"Already the services can be accessed via email address: email@example.com and twitter handle @ndlea_nigeria.
"Very soon the facebook account and toll-free phone calls will be activated to further expand our scope of operation,"Giade said.
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The NDLEA boss gave a breakdown of counseling services provided by the agency in the past five years, adding that drug addiction was not a crime.
"Although drug addiction is not a crime but every drug addict is a patient and must be treated with love.
"NDLEA does not punish addicts, rather they are properly counseled and treated," he said.
Giade said that the counseling unit was not only to rehabilitate addicted people but for youth who were interested in knowing the hazards of taking hard drugs.
“It is important for people to have basic knowledge of drugs like types and effects of drugs.
"How to identify drug addicts; civic responsibility on drug control; predisposed factors to drug abuse and trafficking as well as relevant information on drug abuse and trafficking.
"People must be knowledgeable and seek professional help for those with drug addiction challenges," the statement said.
It said that the agency shall sensitise and educate the public on the dangers of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substance.
Giade also said that stimulating interest and creating awareness about drug- related problems were part of the efforts to be made by the agency.
Other statutory functions of NDLEA include: providing after-carrier rehabilitation; social re-integration and education of addicts as well as promotion of convicts’ welfare.