Thursday, 22 December 2016

New Craze for Codeine Among Nigerian Youths

By Sunday Obembe

The increasing rate of abuse of pharmaceutical products especially Codeine among Nigerian youths is alarming. The drug which is usually mixed with soft drinks is gradually taking over alcohol in youth parties.

Though, the use of several mind altering substances of natural origin has been in existence for a long time. From the days of yore, man has tried to either shy away from their problems, pressures and challenges of life or celebrate some pleasant things through the use of liquor and different intoxicating substances.

Such liquor which includes palm wine and locally brewed alcohol such as “ogogoro”, “burukutu”, plants like “gegemu” and others was used occasionally and in moderation with few exceptions. This was the trend of substance use in Nigeria until after the Second World War when cannabis also known as India Hemp was introduced through war veterans who brought home the cannabis seed from India. The 70s and 80s saw the introduction of other drugs like cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and pharmaceutical opioids such as codeine.  A lot has been introduced into drug abuse with unexplainable mixtures, experimentations and irritating new discoveries like inhaling pit toilet/soak away fumes.

However, as part of the government effort to cushion the use of these substances among Nigerian youths, a major crusade on drug abuse was launched in Lagos State by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, which is aimed at sensitizing and enlightening the people of the state especially youths on the dangers of inappropriate drug use, particularly codeine.

Whether codeine is used properly or it is abused, it has many of the same effects as other opiates. Codeine may cause nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Since opiates suppress breathing, the codeine user may have slowed breathing or difficulty getting his breath. This is the way an opiate kills if a little too much of the drug is taken. With codeine, not much more of the drug needs to be taken for an overdose than one would normally take for treatment of pain.

When a person is using codeine for cough suppression instead or for pain, usually a smaller dose is consumed. Either way, another common effect of codeine use is addiction. How long it takes to get addicted will vary by person. Some people may be addicted after only a couple of weeks. Another person may take codeine for a longer time and still be able to stop.

A codeine user may be drowsy, especially if he or she is using a high dosage or is abusing the drug. His heart rate will slow down, which can lead to fainting or dizziness. Its mental effects could include confusion, irritation, antagonism or agitation. If effects or dosage are more intense, there could be hallucinations or even convulsions.

Furthermore, there are five important predisposing factors to drug abuse among youths which includes, peer pressure, curiosity, ignorance, academic induced frustration and lack of parental care. Adolescence and young adult are characterised by new identities/peer selection, adventurism, curiosity, excitement and role confusion.

Where youths and teenagers are not well guided, either by the home or school, they choose wrong peers which will lead to experimenting with drugs. Also, the challenges of life which may include academic workload, becoming free from parents put them under pressure to find solace in drugs. Some even claim that they take some of these drugs to be relief, though out of ignorance of the consequences.

Others have been introduced to these substances without knowing what they took. They would probably notice that they felt differently and would want to have a similar feel. Before they could say Jack Robinson they would have been addicted it.
The consequences of drug abuse and becoming addicted include extreme violence, gang rape, drug induced suicide, paranoia, poor academic performance, poor feeding the habit, school dropout, poor health condition, indebtedness and waste of resource.

Drug abuse is also associated with anti social vices among youths such as cultism, hooliganism, and armed robbery. This means that addressing the menace of drug abuse among Nigerian youths requires collective efforts; parents, institutions of learning, religious organizations, other youth associations, government agencies and the general public all coming together to fight these time bomb waiting to explode if not properly managed.

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