Substance Abuse: Ingenuity of Complex Mixtures Flood Lagos Suburbs


Tanimola, 18, a secondary school dropout and self-confessed substance addict now spends time with friends in the Alimosho area of Lagos.


When our reporter met him at Bollar junction, Ijegun in Alimosho local government area of Lagos, an area notorious for harbouring miscreants, in his hands was a bottle of Lacasera soft drink diluted with codeine, an opiate used to treat pain and found mostly in cough medicine.


The reporter observed him place the strange concoction to his lips and down his fourth sip.


He explained to the curious reporter that five bottles of codeine was not always sufficient in a day as he consumes a carton with the support of his two friends when at a social event.


However, he said the result, though pleasing initially, does not last for long.


“Less than 30 minutes of taking it, once the peak is reached, movement is difficult and I lose memory; I become weak and feel drowsy as I (become) slow in every activity I do,” he said.


According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, common side effects of codeine include vomiting, constipation, itchiness and lightheadedness, while serious side effects may include breathing difficulties and addiction.


To throw off suspicion, Safety Record Newspaper gathered, some of the abused substances are either carried in table water bottles or diluted with a soft drink or other means.


At Bollar, both male and female addicts have found a spot where they freely indulge in using a variety of substances to get “high,” our reporter learnt.


It was further gathered that various illicit drugs were being sold in the area every night by Hausa boys and that is where a group of young men often congregate to have a cannabis communion.


From the beginning of the road, an observant passer-by would notice many of the addicts with wrapped marijuana, smoking away what they call ‘earthly sorrow’.


Although the use of illicit drugs is not new, it is growing at an alarming rate globally, with more youths embracing it by the day. Drug abuse is gaining ground and young people, mostly boys and girls of secondary school age, are getting more involved.


Nathan Wood, a 16-year-old teenager, was on social outing with his friends with the intention of having great fun.


But after some hours of having a nice time, Wood, of Totnes, Devon in the United Kingdom, became distressed and started behaving strangely before stripping naked and plunging into a nearby river.


His swollen corpse was found two days later by police, after his friends had searched for him in vain.


An autopsy conducted on his remains confirmed that he had taken a powerful hallucination drug known as the “N-Bomb”, also referred to as “Smiles.”


“A coroner ruled today that Nathan would not have died if he had stayed away from the drug, which causes powerful hallucinations and can make users paranoid,” the Sun UK reported on January 31, 2017.


Experts told Safety Record Newspaper that drugs mostly abused include cough syrups with codeine, mostly abused by women and teens along with a belief that they have aphrodisiacal properties, while Rohypnol and Tramadol tablets are mostly abused by artisans, especially labourers, because it stimulates them.


Dr Martin Agwogie, a drug Demand Reduction expert with NDLEA said ingenuity has recently been introduced into drug abuse with complex mixtures, experimentations and new discoveries.


He said this has resorted to the abuse of lizard dung (especially the whitish part), pit toilet/soak away fumes (bio generic gas), “goskolo” a concoction of unimaginable substances, robin blue powder cocktail, gadagi (a substance resembling tea leaves), pharmaceutical products (tramadol, rohypnol) and many more.


He added that the consequences of drug abuse include extreme violence, gang rape, drug-induced suicide, paranoia, poor academic performance, larceny, dropping out of school, poor health condition, indebtedness and waste of resources.


He further explained that due to new technologies which have improved the mass production of some drugs, hitherto hard-to-get drugs have become very cheap and therefore affordable.


The presence of new substances of abuse are usually not detected until someone suffering from the consequences visits the hospital for treatment or law enforcement personnel intercept or seize a supply of suspected substances, he noted.


Stakeholders in the health sector and concerned Nigerians have also, on many occasions, queried why people engage in taking such substances, while seeking a lasting solution to checking the menace.


“People use drugs in different forms and by so doing they abuse the substance because they need the secondary feeling ever more strongly.


“People suffering from anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression or other mental illnesses use drugs and alcohol to ease their suffering but it destroys the body system,” Dr Peter Ekenna, a medical expert in Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa was quoted by NAN as saying.


The Federal Government is also not folding its arms on the issue of substance abuse across the nation.


The Registrar, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, PCN, Elijah Mohammed, was recently quoted by the media as restating Federal Government’s commitment to ending open drugs hawking by August 1, 2017.


He said the move would assist in curtailing the menace of open drug sale and attributed major challenges in the health system to open drug hawking.


The registrar stated that coordinated wholesale centres are currently being built in four states of the federation.


According to him, the centre would go a long way in curtailing drug hawking among others, as there would be strict regulation of drug distribution and sales at the centre.