Drowning in Drugs
My brother, I tell you nothing but truth. You see this thing, nothing dey there. Me sef been wan stop am but na that nicotine; the nicotine wey dey there be my problem. If I no take am like this, my body go dey do me one kind and my spirit go dey low but once I take am steady, as in, I go dey alright.
These were the words of Julius (not real name) as he narrated to a curious me, his cigarette addiction story.
You sef see am, he said as he brought out a pack of cigarette from his pocket and showed me the ingredients as written on the pack Nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide; you see say na slow death.
Julius works as a poultry attendant in an agrarian community in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. We met when life took me to the community on an assignment.
Julius’ story is typical of the majority of the young people in that village and other surrounding villages where young men brazenly go about, be it morning, evening or night with parcels of Indian hemp tucked in between their index and middle fingers. In the house where I lived throughout my stay in the village, a neighbour brews local spirit and it is not unusual to hear shouts of “A fe ra jedi” (we want to buy locally brewed spirit) as early as 4 0’clock in the morning, especially on market days.
Once day bows at the feet of night, the houses become empty of young men who after a hectic day on the farm or on the roads transporting goods and people, hold court in tuck shops drowning in bottles upon bottles of spirit and puffing thick smokes of marijuana through their ears and noses as they make small talk about women’s breasts and bosoms, their own sexual exploits and European football clubs.
The drug incidence is no different in Northern Nigeria. It has become a huge menace which calls for urgent attention. Discussion with colleagues at a seminar in Kaduna opened my eyes to the huge menace of drug addiction and how it mars the present and future of many a youth. Statistics has shown that over three million bottles of codeine are consumed in Kano and Jigawa states on a daily basis.
“Guy forget. I dey mix tramol (short form of tramadol) and rophynol with palmwine o. Na oxidado I wan try now” I heard a young man tell his friends as they walk behind me on a street in Warri, Delta State.
Oxidado is a cheap popular drug in the Americas made from the mixture of cocaine paste, gasoline, kerosene and quicklime. The drug is said to be as twice as powerful as cocaine and can kill within a year.
Instead of subsiding, drug addiction across the world is growing wilder by the day. Opiate use has trebled over a few years; marijuana consumption has increased by half and newly discovered synthetic drugs like oxidado are taking people to new levels of highness. The Medical Director, Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Lagos revealed recently that the number of patients with drug-related cases has surged in recent times.
The drug menace in Nigeria is real and threatens the lives of vibrant young people on whose shoulders the present and future of our country rest. It is therefore urgent that we the people, NGOs and CSOs form strategic alliances and come up with workable solutions to this canker-worm.