Tackling Drug Abuse In Northern Nigeria, By Fatima H Labo

Aisha Buhari
Aisha Buhari

The Wife of Nigeria’s President, Aisha Buhari, recently raised an alarm early in the year when she visited Kano State. She said Northern youth, including women, were wasting their lives with drug abuse. She urged political and religious leaders in the region to urgently find a solution to the menace.

Recently too at a meeting hosted by the wife of Borno State governor and chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF), Hajiya Nana Shettima, in Abuja. At the meeting, the wife of the Zamfara State governor and chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF)  Asmau Abdulaziz Yari, said drug abuse is a ‘killer disease’ that people tend to shy away from.

Although many parents are either truly unaware of the menace or are living in denial. It is an obvious fact that drug addiction threatens a great percentage of young men and women across northern Nigeria. Surprisingly, some addicts including students, working class ladies and even married women. More alarming is a vast majority of unemployed girls who are hooked on drugs.

They have rephrased the drug as the new high lies, not in prohibited narcotic substances such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis, but in simple codeine, commonly found in cough syrups.

Moreso, the rising drug use among young girls, boys and women may be the fallout of increasing drug use among older generation. However, the women, finding hard drugs like cocaine too strong and disruptive, have taken to “safer” “softer” drug such as codeine, which is banned but is commonly found in cough syrup.

It has been observed that ladies also take a mixture of prescription drugs, which medical experts say are counterfeit painkillers.

Initially, it was thought that the problem was typical in the North-western part of the country, but investigations have further showed that the drug problem could be even worse among women in the North-East, which has been ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency.

While drug abuse, especially cannabis, has been a long time problem among male youth in the North, codeine cough syrup is the emerging cancer ravaging women and girls in the North from Kaduna to Borno and Yobe to Nasarawa. Codeine syrup has become the favourite drug of abuse by all classes of girls and women in the north, but most especially the daughters and wives of the wealthy.

The smallest bottle of codeine syrup costs up to N600, while some cost as high as N1,000. A report recently indicates that some girls admit they could take up to eight bottles in a day. Since many of the girls and women, including housewives, are neither career nor business women, the habit is sustained by a legion of “boyfriends” who buy for them.

The boys would take hard drugs like cocaine, heroin or wee-wee and get syrup for the girls. There are varieties of them, including CSP, Stopcof, C&C, Cofflin, Totalin, Ezolyn, and the prices ranges from N250 per bottle to N1000 per bottle.

The habit has come with a lot of negative effects for the user. It has affected most relationships even family members are not left out.  with men and she finds it difficult keeping steady relationships.

Addiction to codeine syrup is turning the otherwise conservative girls and women of the North into social miscreants and rebellious housewives. It is increasingly becoming common to see Northern girls and women at night clubs and social spots where they have freedom to drink codeine, take their tablets and smoke cigarette, and return home wearing hijab. More women now are believed to keep late nights since they cannot indulge in addiction freely at home.

Drug abuse, according to medical practitioners, occurs when a person can no longer function normally without taking the drug.

With all these immoralities going on among the northern youths, parents are advised to make out time to supervise whatever activities their wards are engaged in and also know the kinds of friends they keep so as to checkmate this vice.

Fatima H Labo
Department of Mass Communication
Baze University Abuja