By Ayodamola Owoseye
The abuse of drugs among youth has become a disturbing trend in Nigeria. This recently led to the federal government’s ban on codeine as an active pharmaceutical ingredient for making cough syrup.
There is little information on how many drug users there are in Nigeria. The abuse of prescription drugs is so rampant and has gone beyond codeine. The ban on codeine-related drugs might only spur many youth to look for alternative drugs to satisfy their urge.
Some of the over-the-counter drugs which have been abused depending on the defined use include antibiotics, antidiarrhoeals, laxatives, pain-relieving drugs, sedatives, amphetamines and cannabis. The availability and possible medical needs of these other drugs indicate government must comprehensively review Nigeria’s drug policy rather than just ban one item.
PREMIUM TIMES lists some of the common generic drugs currently abused on the streets:
This is a pain killer now used as an ecstasy drug by youth in Nigeria. Tramadol is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is meant to be prescribed by a physician, unfortunately, the drug has found its way to the streets.
The pill comes in different milligrammes from 50 to 500. The recommended dose of tramadol is 50 to 100mg, with a maximum of 200mg in serve treatment cases. Anything above 200mg will cause a massive euphoric effect similar to what is gotten from taking marijuana, or other opiate medication, oxycodone etc..
Tramadol is used by some men to prevent quick ejaculation. One or two tablet of 500mg is believed by some to increase libido and staying in power when the male user wants to impress a woman.
Side effect of tramadol when taken in high dosage include but is not limited to nausea, diarrohea, loss of appetite, dry mouth.
Long term abuse can lead to convulsion, seizures, serious health damage, birth defects in pregnant women or even death.
This is also known as Roko, Roofies, Roche, Renfol and has many other slangs. Rohypnol is meant to be a sold only after a physician’s prescription. The drug is a tranquiliser about ten times more potent than valium.
However, in Nigeria, the drug can be gotten both on the streets and over-the-counter without prescription. Rohypnol is used to treat severe insomnia and for anesthetic purposes. The drug is relatively cheap and gives the user a hazy feeling.
The drug is often taken with alcoholic or assorted drinks. Addicts could sometimes crush the pill to be taken with marijuana or other herbs. This could also be injected.
Rohypnol is nearly tasteless making it a pill of choice for drugging unsuspecting victims. The pill has a reputation of a “date-rape” drug because of its paralysing effect.
The effects start 20-30 minutes after taking the drug, peaks within two hours and may persist for eight or even 12 hours.
A person can be so incapacitated (unable to act) that he or she collapses. The taker lies on the floor, eyes open, able to observe events but completely unable to move. Afterwards, memory is impaired and they cannot recall anything.
The person also experiences loss of muscle control, confusion, drowsiness and amnesia.
This is a cheap pain killer which can be gotten from hawkers, street side vendors and drug store. The drug is usually hawked around pubs.
People swallowing Alabukun with alcohol have become a common sight not regarding the medical implication of doing so.
Alabukun is a locally produced analgesic in powder form. According to manufacturer of the drug, it is a combination of aspirin (Acetylsalicylic Acid -760mg) and Caffeine.
Some Nigerians take it to neutralise alcohol or to treat hangover. Some mix it with cocaine and other substances that can be sniffed.
It is also known as Tylenol. It is an over-the-counter pain killer but also sold on the streets and by road-side hawkers.
The drug, because of its chemical composition, has an ability to numb the muscles, emotional pains and sometimes creates an exciting effect to the user.
Most abusers use it to kill desperation, emotional trauma, and depression among others. To get an euphoric effect, the pills are usually taken with alcohol or coca-cola. Some crush the pills and mix with other substances for a ‘higher effect’.
Unfortunately, this drug when abused can become harmful to the body both physically and mentally. Abuse of Aspirin damages the liver and heart. The drug is not good for diabetic and hypertensive patients.
This is also known as diazepam. This is one of the drugs which is not meant to be sold without a doctor’s prescription. Valium unfortunately, is still being sold over the counter without prescription. It is also sold in the black market and can be found on the streets.
Valium is an addictive benzodiazepine with longer lasting effect than other drugs in its class.
The drug can be administered via oral injection or as a tablet. It can also be crushed, injected or mixed with other drugs. Valium affects the brain and produces fast euphoric high. Over time, it is hard for the abuser’s brain to function normally without the drug.
The risk is often higher when Valium is combined with other drugs such as alcohol, opioids, among others.