A new wave of double jeopardy is gradually building up amongst Nigerian young population especially in cities and schools to the detriment of the nation’s productive future, Business Hilights can authoritatively report.
The first danger according our investigations is the craze to use very cheap but dangerous seductive medications while the second penetrating craze is lotto bet gambling whose shops are populating every available space around both on major and unpopular streets in every state.
Whereas many parents are quick to equate hard drugs with only Indian hemp, cocaine and heroin, Business Hilights investigations discovered that many Nigerian parents may be shocked coming to terms one day that their wards are into sniffing petrol, gum, Over The Counter (OTC) drugs including Codeine, Tramadol, others reach all-time high charge activating agents.
However, the raging argument is that whereas some of these drugs are too expensive and far away from our youths’ reach, parental moral and religious teachings are no more doing much to change the narrative either.
According to the former Director General of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC), Mr. Otunba Ipinmisho, “40 per cent of our youths are on one hard drug or the other, and that is disturbing.”
“You may be fooled by our ‘clean’ streets without drug peddlers hanging around. The impression that our streets are free of addicts may just be a myth.
“Forget cocaine, heroin and every other hard drug out there that huge salaries cannot buy and think of simple Over The Counter (OTC) drugs that give relief to common cold, pain and depressions.
“Come down to the level of cough syrup prescribed to relieve baby from a chesty cough. Many of them come with codeine. Guess what? Codeine is the new Indian Hemp.
“Presently, young boys no longer depend on strong alcoholic drinks like spirits to get intoxicated. The adventure is to get pills that can keep the mind on hyperactive mode for as long as possible.
In his further submission, “Most common cold relief syrups always come with codeine which makes the patient drowsy. The drowsiness is the attraction to these young men who are seeking to get to ‘cloud nine’ without drinking up to half a glass of alcohol or take ‘weed’.
He said “Drugs like Rohypnol, Tramadol and cough syrups laced with codeine are on the top list of drugs abused by young men and teenagers”.
“Step into a party where young men and women are gathered, chances are that you will find many of them hugging plastic bottles filled with mixtures that include codeine or rohypnol (known on the streets as ‘refnol’
During the course of this research by Business Hilights Economic Research team (BHERT) in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja and Onitsha, a street drug vendor who pleaded anonymity, said “the first two drugs mentioned above have been restricted to prescription drugs due to the alarming rate of abuse amongst youngsters but many of them ask for it and we sell”.
BHERT noticed that “most parents are ignorant of the abuse of over the counter drugs like the cough syrup with codeine. A child might be ingesting the drug right in front of you without you having a clue”.
According to the studies, most parents are equally into gambling and it has become very rare for one to trek along any street in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja or Onitsha without seeing white teller printouts coming from Lotto gaming centers especially football betting centers of matches they never watched in the first instance.
Studies show further that the gaming is based on mere speculation and betting centers are always overcrowded along every street from morning till evening by youths who should either be in their schools or other productive ventures.
Besides, whereas distilling firms have started producing a mixture of narcotic drugs and ethanol and packaging them in very small and cheap plastic containers and even sachets selling as low as N50 and N100, gaming companies have also introduced cheaper lotto that can be played with as low as N25, N50 and above.
This according to research is just targeting the youth population for destruction. Analysts’ say if this trend is not controlled and on time, the economy and society which will be in the hands of current youths’ in the next 30 years will be a narcotic and gambling economy and society which spell doom.
Further findings show that unlike cocaine that can be sniffed or injected, codeine or refnol only needs to be mixed into a drink and drunk like any soft drink.
The study revealed further that youths who use these drugs try to deceive adults. Some youths actually mix these drugs in bottles of soft drinks and carry it around as they sip it. Adults or parents will be none the wiser. Most parents end up blaming their ward’s unpredictable and erratic behavior on mere raging adolescent hormones.
Another related study showed that the age of users are now more between 14 and 25 while there are more users in Northern Nigeria than in the South. Though more young men take part than women, there are also a large number of young girls who take these drugs.
The key issues now according to several parents who spoke with our research team is for government to clamp down on the sellers to reduce availability of the drugs and reach.
Also, there is need for deep and massive national campaign to save the future of Nigerian youthful population to save the future from the shackles of sedative drugs and gambling by the under-aged or youths of school ages.