Over the last few days, the Nigeria media space was awash with the documentary by a BBC reporter tagged Sweet Codeine………. And we in our usual characteristic manner reacted, blamed cursed, and worst of all, the government of the day instead of having a holistic look on the root cause and finding a lasting solution placed an outright ban on the sale of codeine. These pharmaceutical companies have obtained license for production, pay their taxes it is the responsibility of the Nigerian government through its regulatory agencies

According to a research work by the Development Initiative of West Africa (DIWA), in Niger state alone, about 30,000 bottles are consumed daily and a whopping 3 million bottles nationwide and of note, consumption rate is highest amongst women and young children. From reports, Kano, Plateau, Adamawa and Sokoto are the major markets in drug- Codeine & Tramadol (NBS: 2017) 309,713kg of drugs and 191,353 kg of cannabis was seize during raids by NDLEA & NAFDAC

Views from twitter shows tramadol is a bigger problem than codeine, yet agencies are not talking about it. Clearly reacting only to what is in the news. (@Miss_Jayla) in addition @Mahnny_ stated that people have moved from tramadol, the most consumed are refinol or swinol closely followed by Diazepam and the most at risk of consumption are still girls and women. Others resort to inhale ecreta by Lizard.

Before the recent ban, drug makers sales shot up by


What then may be the cause of resorting to drugs? Below highlights a few of the root causes.



Health challenge: a lot of victims of drugs are depressed, and due to the low rate of awareness on mental health in Nigeria as such most victims who could have accessed care early enough still go undetected until full blown addiction. Typical Nigerian mentality, will instead of tackling the menace head on will resort to denial, blame games and even attributing it to enemies or black magic,

Absence of parental guidance: From observation, it will be of note that most victim of the addiction are kids from well to do homes, they are not lacking materially but deprived of emotional care by either or both parents. Some families when they find their kids with cases of addiction, instead of finding cure medically will rather marry off such kids to unsuspecting spouses who in the long run begin to bear the brunt of these addictions.


Highhandedness by care givers:  In another light children kept in the care of nannies and school teachers, and sadly even some mothers in a bid to keep the children under control or make them get some sleep, opt to give these kids cough syrups to sedate them, not minding the consequence of early exposure and also long term exposure.

Peer pressure: Many others get influenced through peer pressure and inadequate information on the dangers of drug and substance abuse, become addicts over a period of time. Young people in their adolescent age bracket are usually prey.

Emotional dimension: Amongst women, major cause of addiction responsible is lack of attention from their spouse, especially women who reside away from the spouses. When craving for the presence of their spouses and not getting the much need care and attention


Way forward:

  • There is a need to step up citizen education on drugs from all levels of education in our Schools, homes, religious places of worship and even on our streets. The rot from this menace is better imagined.
  • Government agencies like NAFDAC, Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria & NDLEA charged with the responsibility of control and regulation must live up to the tenet of their mandate. The regulatory body NAFDAC is yet to put a system in place to checkmate the products in the shelves of our pharmacies & pharmaceutical stores, leaving out products stocked, the ones in the hands of the end users, the black market, the ones who are currently smuggled to our shelves in the black market etc. not those doing legal business and paying their taxes.
  • The usual raids by regulatory agencies is less effective as the dealers have a way of getting information regarding such raids and clearing their counters before such raids. NAFDAC and others need a tracker of these banned products from production to the end user backed with doctor’s prescription.
  • Agencies charged with border patrol need to up their game to stop smugglers on their tracks.
  • Parents need to connect more emotionally with their children. Giving money to your kids to get whatever they want is not the best, of what use is chasing career and dreams when the primary role in the home front is missed in the long run? Spouses must make conscious effort to connect emotionally with their spouses, this will in no small measure


After the ban what next? ………… waiting for your reactions in the comment section.

9 thoughts on “The Codeine Menace: an X-ray of some aspects of the root cause.”

  1. Some people go into drugs because of depression, but I can tell you that under the influence of drugs, there is more depression. So it is not the solution. People have to find more natural means to face the realities of life-especially down times.

    There should be more awareness on ways to address depression in order to substitute for drug abuse. More recreational centres should be established. There should be centres for free counselling and therapy. Remand homes and vocational training centres should be built. Government should look for ways to ensure that more young people are giving admissions into higher institutions of learning and more jobs are created for graduates. Cultism should be monitored and fought.

    It is not enough to ban coedine and largely condemn the act of drug abuse. Are there palliative measures to address the situation? I will write on this soon.

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