Sweet, sweet codeine? Perhaps, sweet death!

Some hours after the release of a fifty-two minutes documentary on cough syrup with codeine by the BBC (African eye) titled ‘sweet sweet codeine’ and how it has destroyed the lives of Nigerian youth, the federal government swing into action like a commando-style and placed an embargo on the importation of the drug.
The minister of health, Isaac Adewole said in a statementthat ‘permit’ should not be granted to any pharmaceutical company in Nigeria to import codeine as an ‘active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparation.’ The question on the lips of Nigerians, however, is – why did it take so long for the federal government to ban the sale of the drug despite numerous reports by local media outlets on the dangers of the drug? In fact, sometime last year, a senator from Borno, Bashir Garba raised a motion on the floor of the Senate demanding the upper chamber to investigate the massive influx of codeine into the country and the danger it possesses to the wellbeing of the Nigerian populace.
The senate promised to investigate the menace.
It was a long silence after then not until the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) intercepted about 2,400 bottles of cough syrup with codeine in Katsina state.
I was shocked to my bone marrow when I first heard the news.
I knew of the abuse of the substance but I am unaware that it has gotten to that extent.
Yet, after the Katsina story, the federal government did not act immediately.
Perhaps, not until the BBC did a revealing documentary before the government acted.
The senators, who have been loudly silent for months after Garba’s motion decided to also direct its committee on drugs and Narcotics yesterday to ensure the full compliance with the ban on the use of codeine in cough syrup.
I really don’t know why we allow a problem to fester for long before we swing into action in this country.
Well, better late than never, it is said.
Frightfully, I hope this decision isn’t coming too late though.
The damage it has done is too outrageous to be ignored.
Some facts from the BBC documentary reveals that about 3million bottles are consumed every day.
To them, it is a way to boost energy or fight depression.
They are possibly unaware of the impending dangers.
Or let say, they are quite aware but too addicted to stop it.
Perhaps, they are also unaware that ‘sweet sweet’ codeine leads to sweet death, slow death.
Research has shown that mixing opioid drugs with alcohol is not only dangerous but also depressed the central nervous system.
If not quickly taken care of, it reduces the rate of breathing and ultimately leads to death.
I wish they know.
It is not yet time to weep.
Maybe, we are yet to see the resulting general effects of the codeine abuse.
But, the signs are there for us already.
Hardly would you go to any street in the north today without seeing young boys and girls, looking white as a sheet, gathered in group passionately discussing ways to get money to buy the drug.
The social-ill is not limited to the northern region; of course, the southern youths are also chronic abusers and addicts of codeine syrup.
They are in every corners and street.
Gradually, these drug abusers would turn robbers who burgle our doors and windows and come to disturb us at night.
They would turn kidnappers who disturb us at highways.
They would turn rapists that waylay on street corners and rape our daughters.
And even more dangerously, they would turn terrorists we might never defeat.
They are loose cannon, and could cause significant and unexpected havoc.
We should sing to their ears that just like the weed of crime bears bitter fruit, so also the weed of such negative behaviour.
Most of our youths are not in the best state of health.
Proper channels should be used to campaign against the use of the drugs.
‘Sweet Sweet’ codeine does not give sweet life; it rather oxymoronically, leads to sweet death.
Omolaoye Sodiq, Abuja

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