Since the BBC video of drug abuse, specifically codeine went viral, it would seem that the Nigerian Government has taken up arms to fight against the scourge of drug abuse and by extension addiction. A way the government is fighting addiction amongst the youth, is by banning the manufacture, importation and sales of cough syrups or drugs containing the ingredient codeine.
Codeine is a highly addictive ingredient in most cough syrups and it is an opiate used to treat pain, thus consumed in large quantities, it could elicit the same effect as most narcotics.
The scourge of codeine addiction is popular amongst young people looking to get high,that several Nigerian artists have created music about. e.g Tiwa Savage’s ‘Diet’, Olamide’s ‘Science Student’. According to reports, Codeine and Tramadol abuse is recorded highest in Northern Nigeria.
To maximize the effect of codeine, it is mixed with several other narcotics, such as painkiller, Tramadol, Marijuana etc, thereby creating a deadly cocktail.
With the anticipated ban of Codeine in Cough syrups and in medicine, as announced by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, on Tuesday, 2nd April 2018, the prices of Codeine cough syrups are expected to skyrocket.
While this is a commendable move by the federal government, in its war against drug abuse and addiction, we must be well aware of the blow back of such a move.
Young people who are addicted to this debilitating narcotic will begin panic buying to stock this drug, furthermore it has given room for smugglers to make more profit, as our porous borders will ensure these banned product is made available, while less scrupulous individuals enrich themselves. Following the laws of Economics, when a product is made scarce, demand and prices will increase.
Therefore what ways can the government fight drug abuse without these blow backs? This can be done by ensuring all drugs are only purchased with a doctor’s prescription. This will ensure tighter control of its availability. Seminars and workshops can be organized to educate young people of the dangers of drug abuse and addiction. Most importantly rehab and health centers must be made readily available for addicts who want to come clean.