Stand Point

Save Kwara youths from codeine ‘diet’


With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson

Just last week I witnessed a shocking scenario. There were four young adults in a car; one was behind the wheel driving towards the Challenge area of Ilorin, Kwara State. Nothing seems unusual until my colleague called my attention to their action. They were drinking a substance straight from a bottle, which they passed around. “That is codeine they are taking,” she said sounding alarmed. It was then it dawned on me that we have a festering drug abuse problem at hand. The abuse of pharmaceutical drugs as showcased in a recent BBC documentary throws up the gravity of the situation, which calls for concern. Sometime last year a friend gilded me with tales of how students of a particular tertiary institution in the state capital indulge in the abuse of the pharmaceutical drug with reckless abandon and how chemists in the area smile to the bank selling the product to their ‘regular’ customers. Other opioids that are mostly abused are Tramadol and Rohypnol and diazepam. I also learnt that in the absence of these pharmaceutical drugs youths consume some substances to get ‘high’. These include urine, dry pawpaw leaves, hypo in lacasera, Tom Tom in lacasera, burnt bitumen, dry plantain leaves, burnt tyres and spirogyra.
Others are mentylated spirit, methylated spirit in codeine, cannabis, ganja, Igbo, weed, gum, Lizard excrete and human faeces, to mention but a few.
Nevertheless, the abuse of codeine, which has come to be known as codeine diet has become a common feature at most parties organised by students in the state. The problem as assumed alarming proportion because of the vulnerability of an average youth, which exposes him to various activities mostly negative. Peer pressure, curiosity, adventure, sexual prowess, emotional stress as been alluded to reason people indulge in drug abuse.
It is saddening that a great percentage of the youthful population are gravitating towards this drug culture. There is the wrong perception by drug users that they get a stimulating effect that makes them feel “high” and so help to counter depression. Other purposes for which these harmful’ substances are used include peer pressure, curiosity, sexual prowess, boldness, enhanced sport performance amongst many. These purposes could derive from direct peer influences, emotional stress, lack of parental control, inferiority complexes, loneliness etc.
It is heart wrenching that most of these youths are oblivious of the effect of this unwholesome drug culture. It will only be trite to note that the use of hard drugs or abuse of pharmaceutical drugs reduce the quality of lives of users. This is because the substances have negative sociological and psychological implications. Aside this,  there are several physical and mental health consequences of drug use, including psychosis, liver cirrhosis, asphyxia, respiratory distress and even death. There are also the social and economic consequences, poverty and reduced quality of life. Suffice it to say that the recent increase in criminal activities like rape, cultism, kidnap, armed robbery, militancy, insurgency, banditry and communal clashes and violence now pervasive in the society cannot be divorced from drug abuse. In addition, it affects the academic life and futuristic plans of users who are students.
It has been observed that why drug abuse is endemic is because of its easy accessibility. Users know where they can easily get the drugs and some pharmacists are accomplices who dispense the drugs over the counter without doctor’s prescription. Some of these drugs are very cheap hence affordable.
The collapse of both societal and family value system have contributed greatly to this social vice.
In view of the adverse effects of drug abuse on the nation, the government and non-governmental organisations should intensify anti-drug awareness campaigns especially in educational institution in the state. Also of importance is the establishment of rehabilitation centres to handle cases of addictions. Governments at all levels should rise to the occasion and make funds available to wage an effective and sustained war against this menace.
Parents and guardians also have a role to play. It is incumbent on them to adequately discharge their responsibilities of bringing up a child in a way that depicts moral uprightness. Like the saying that charity begins at home, preaching of abstinence from drugs should start from parents. The dangers of taking harmful drugs should be emphasised to dissuade children from the social vice. Religious and community leaders should play their part by instilling the fear of God and moral values in youths respectively to inspire self consciousness. This social vice is a time bomb waiting to explode, hence it is pertinent for the state government to declare a state emergency on drug abuse in order to save Kwara future leaders.

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