May 15, 2018

Why are so many young Nigerians turning to drugs?

A government ban on codeine-based cough syrup may not be enough to combat rampant abuse.

A quickly growing number of young Nigerians are addicted to drugs, officials and police say, turning to cheap narcotics like codeine, tramadol, and other substances - even lizard dung - in search of a high. The government this month have banned the production of codeine-based cough syrup and, in the wake of a recent BBC investigationtemporarily shuttered three pharmaceutical firms for allegedly failing to cooperate with federal inspectors. 

Now, drug-reform policy advocates, such as RISE Nigeria's Adeolu Ogunrombi, fear the problem will worsen and are pushing authorities to be more proactive about tackling corruption and closing loopholes they say still exist in the public health system. 

"There is still a huge demand, and a criminal market is going to spring up to meet the needs of the users who are in need of the substances", he said. "We don't even consider that someone who is dependent on drugs is still a human being."

In this episode, The Stream explores the depth of Nigeria's opioid problem to learn how the government is working to prevent abuse and the distribution of drugs on the black market, and what needs to be done next.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Mojisola Adeyeye @NAFDACAgency
Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)

Oluwatoyin Odeku     
Chairperson, Committee on the  Codeine Control and other Related Matters Working Group (CCRWG)

Adeshola Bello @freedom_fdn
Coordinating Manager, Freedom Foundation   

Ruona J. Meyer @RGAMeyer
Investigative Journalist & Sibling of Codeine Addict
"Inside Nigeria’s deadly cough syrup trade

Read more:
The major ingredient in Nigeria’s codeine abuse crisis is corruption at major drug makers - Quartz
The youth and the scourge of drug addiction - Guardian
Is there a growing drug epidemic in Nigeria? - Africa Report

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