Sadly, it appears to me that drug abuse is on the rise in Nigeria. As I live in Lagos, I ordinarily had assumed that this problem was probably most prevalent here given the fact that it is a commercial hub. I have however recently had cause to rethink that notion.
I spent the last three weeks in Abuja and as lovely, calm and sane as the place is, I happened to notice a seemingly high level of drug abuse. I can’t help but wonder if there is a direct link between the hardship and injustice prevalent in the country and this apparently high drug use.
My friend had told me previously how people in Abuja use cough mixtures containing codeine as a means of getting “high” and how the drug is touted outside pharmacy stores but I thought she was exaggerating. Lo and behold, one evening we had gone to a big pharmacy just round the corner from where I was staying and as we were still trying to park the car, a young boy had come to the side of the car asking if we wanted cough syrup. Surprised, I thought to myself “well I am right in front of a pharmacy, if I do in fact need cough syrup, surely I could just walk in and get it.” So I went in and got what I was there for. Just before I walked out of the door, the curiosity got the best of me and I decided to find out what the little episode outside was really about. To my utmost amazement, when I did ask for a cough syrup containing codeine, I was told that it was out of stock! That left me with only one explanation (at the risk of stating the obvious). It is so high in demand that it has become a scarce commodity. Now is cough syrup so high in demand because there is an outbreak in Abuja?
In Lagos on the other hand, marijuana sales and use seems to be the main activity on most of the beaches where you would typically find people cutting across all social classes smoke it without much ado. I happen to have seen first-hand how drug abuse can affect an individual and so this seemingly sudden scourge causes me to worry for the next generation and the future of our country.