On substance/drug abuse in Nigeria.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that 10.6 million Nigerians abused cannabis in 2018 while others abused opioids, cough syrups and other street drugs. Some of the findings of the survey are striking and alarming and call for concerted efforts to mitigate the negative consequences of this rising menace on the health, socio-economic and security of our nation.

It is in this vein I decided to take a walk around the Nasarawa NYSC camp in Keffi to sample the opinions of Nigerians on the common drugs of abuse and the solutions to drug abuse problem amongst youth in Nigeria.

Read their comments below:

Emmanuel from Kogi: “the commonly abused drugs in Nigeria are codeine, cannabis sativa (indian hemp or igbó), tramadol,arizona, LSD and cocaine are not very common. Peer pressure is the most important reason for abusing these drugs. Depression and joblessness also pushes people to abuse drugs. Some persons abuse drugs for recreational purposes. Some Nigerians take tramadol as a sexual stimulant. The solutions to the menace of drug abuse is legislation to reduce the availability of the drugs, prohibiting over-the-counter medications. Health education on the side-effects of the drugs and stiff punishment of recreational drugs offenders”.

Eugenia from Enugu: “drug abuse is unhealthy and uncalled for. People who take it are causing themselves than good. It affects the body negatively. Drug abusers should go for rehab. The commonly abused drugs are tramadol (tramal or simply called ‘TM’) and codeine, and marijuana. People take them to ‘feel high’ and gives them this sense of ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl'”.

Agbobenjamin from Benue: “drug abuse is misuse of drugs. It means taking drugs without the prescription of a doctor. People buy drugs from chemists, roadsides,public buses and motor parks without prescriptions. Tramadol is the major drug of abuse in Nigeria today. People take tramal for energy. Drivers and both skilled and unskilled labourers take tramadol for energy. Tramal is also taken as a sex enhancing drug by our youths. Tramadol is fast killing our youths and the government is looking the other way. Government should either outrightly ban tramal or make it very expensive and unaffordable. Other commonly abused drugs in Nigeria are: ‘monkeytail'(a mixture of gin and marijuana), codeine, benyllin, alcohol, cocaine, pentazocin, nicotin, morphine, agbó, emulsion paints, and even petroleum products. These drug abusers either sniff, swallow,inject or leak these substances”.

Kachi from Imo: ” drug abuse is the use of a drug for the wrong reasons. It means taking drugs because of the side effects it produces that are most of the time pleasurable. For example, most opioids and opioid like subastances such as tramadol, pentazocin, codeine, heroine, fentanyl are abused because they produces euphoria and some feeling of esctacy instead of the primary use of the drugs which is pain relief but people who understand their mechanism of action tend to procure these drugs for these effects. Drug abuse is different from drug misuse or disuse. Other drugs/substances of abuse are codeine containing cough syrup, methylated spirit(people actually drink methylated spirit to get high), gases produced from soakaway or sewage pits, ‘sheppe’, and alcohol”.

Anona from Anambra: “substance abuse is a common menace amongst young persons in both developed and developing countries. There are different kinds of substances that people abuse ranging from drugs to chemicals. There are different routes of ingesting these substances which are through sniffing, inhalation, smoking, chewing and through the veins. The common substances abused are tobacco, kolanut, caffeine containing substances, petroleum, gums, glues,rohypnol, alcohol, pentazocine, soakaway/sewage. The reasons youths abuse substances are experimentation due to peer pressure for instance. Other reasons are mood challenges such as extreme shyness, low self exteem. Drug abusers claim to take these drugs to be bold. There are no benefits to substance abuse. Studies have found that there are direct links between mental disorders and substance abuse. It increases crime rates and a major cause of road traffic accidents. There is a way out, purposeful policy to prevent persons direct access to drugs and punishment of drug offenders is somewhat a solution to this drug abuse problem”.

Isioma from Delta: “drug abuse is the use of drugs without the prescription of a doctor. Most of the times it is youths that abuse drugs. They claim it make them active, high, giddy and enhances sexual prowess. The educated people take it to attain mental alertness and concentration in areas of study. In Nigeria, the commonly abused drugs are tramadol, codeine, pentazocine, amphetamine, cyproheptadine (an appetite stimulant), corticosteroids(dexametazone), cocaine, paracetamol, NSAIDs (ibuprofen,felvin, and diclofenac), Andrews Liver Salt, Postinor, Beecham Ampiclox,and
others. The solution to the menance of drug abuse is the regulation of drug distribution. The availability of both over-the-counter and prescription drugs should be effectively controlled by maintaining appropriate dispensing methods.In addition, there should be shutting down of open market for drugs and ensuring that only licensed personnels handle drugs”.

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