These three drugs are as much of a problem as cough syrup
Now that Nigeria has finally woken from the drug-induced slumber it was in, the news about drug abuse in the country, particularly codeine-infused cough syrups, has stuck more than a few nerves.
The government has responded as one would expect, by placing a ban on the granting of licenses for the importation of codeine.
Whether this was the best thing to do or a panic reaction that is bound to create worse problems is easily obvious.
What’s even worse is that this new found fascination with codeine creates the illusion that Nigeria has a simple cough syrup problem when it is actually dealing with a drug crisis.
Here are 3 other drugs that Nigerians abuse just as much as cough syrup.
Known as roofies, Roche, refnol and many other bastardized versions of the original name, Rohypnol is sold in Nigeria as an over-the-counter medicine for severe insomnia and for anaesthetic purposes.
However, young people chasing the dreamy haze that it induces now abuse it to scary proportions.
The drug is relatively cheap and unlike marijuana, can be used discreetly.
Most users swallow it as a pill, dissolved in a drink or snorted. The more adventurous and oblivious of them sprinkle it on marijuana and smoke it.
The most popular form of use though is to lick it as one would do a toffee. When this is done, it leaves a blue tinge on the user’s tongue which you may have spotted on one or more young people.
Where pharmacists fail, young people get the drug from roadside vendors or dealers who sell an assortment of drugs.
Rohypnol is also nearly tasteless; which has made it ideal for use in drugging unsuspecting victims.
Tramadol is an opioid analgesic prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Healthcare practitioners consider it to be a safe alternative to other stronger narcotics painkillers like hydrocodone.
The problem though is that, as a result of factors like pricing and availability,
It is delivered in two forms. For medical purposes, such as surgeries or for severe pain, it is given as intravenously as an injection or passed as drips.
It is also sold in Nigeria as an over-the-counter medication in green capsules of between 50mg to 400mg.
When taken in pill form at high doses, some of its less desirous side-effects include nausea, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and dry mouth.
In the inverse, tramadol can produce a euphoric high similar to another commonly abused opiate medication, oxycodone (OxyContin).
Because the body builds up resilience to the drug easily, higher doses are required to get high, increasing the risk of addiction. Reports of doses are becoming more frequent and in some cases, have led to death.
When abused over the medium or long term, tramadol can cause serious health defects.
Some would say marijuana is not a drug in the
same sense as codeine, especially considering the world’s changing attitude towards the drug.
In Nigeria, use and possession are still illegal despite calls for decriminalisation but you wouldn’t know if you took a walk through a Lagos suburb or happened on a group of young people revelling in the sun.
It has been said that every street or community in Nigeria has its own weed dealer and as far as experience serves this writer, that statement is somewhat true.
While exotic strains like Loud are out of reach for the average consumer, local strains, known as Igbo or SK, can be bought for as cheap as 200 naira a parcel.
The influence of pop culture and to a greater extent, musicians from Fela to Burna Boy, is also worth considering.
Once seen as the devil’s herb, marijuana is now a symbol of youthful exuberance, independence and enlightenment.
Marijuana use in Nigeria has all but become normal and there is an ecosystem to prove it.
The laws may say otherwise but behind the curtains, there is a growing ecosystem of weed shops, caterers, dealers in paraphernalia and leisure built around the herb.