All stakeholders should do more to curb the menace


    Abuse of drugs and substance is a global phenomenon. But the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has since linked the current challenge of internal security within the country to uncontrolled influx and use of psychotropic medicines such as Tramadol and other chemicals. These are drugs that affect behaviour, mood, thoughts, and perception. Their abuse has also become a serious health challenge for the country. We therefore appeal to our regulatory authorities to be more alive to their responsibilities if we are to effectively contain this menace in Nigeria.  


  Chairman, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Ahmed Mora, recently confirmed the ease with which psychotropic drugs can be accessed in the country. “Aside from codeine that we all know, there are other psychotropic substances that cannot just be dispensed over the counter because they have addictive tendencies. So, with this consultant cadre, more emphasis will be put on this to ensure these drugs are dispensed properly,” said Mora who pledged the support of the PCN on regulation of controlled and psychotropic drugs in the country. But as we keep reiterating, in the absence of a water-tight regulatory framework in the drug administration environment, this promise is a mirage.    



  Unfortunately, the consequence of ignoring the danger of prescription but commonly misused drugs can be dire. For instance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has repeatedly warned that the growing abuse of Tramadol by some African and West Asian countries may lead to intoxication like other opioid analgesics with the consequence of the breakdown of central nervous system (CNS), depression, coma, tachycardia, cardiovascular collapse, seizures, and respiratory depression up to a respiratory arrest.    

 We are already seeing the effect of how several years of violence, insurgency, and now banditry can destabilise a country and undermine its development. The military adventure in the north-east and other parts of the country is an expensive operation while many people have either been killed or displaced. There is also a profound threat to food security given that many farmers now find it risky to go to the field to plant and harvest crops. Criminal groups under the influence of narcotics and other drugs are also gaining notoriety by ganging up with terrorists, drug traffickers and pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.  


   In many parts of the country, abduction of people is now a thriving business as hardly a day goes by without news of people being kidnapped for ransom either in their homes or on their way to work or while travelling on the road. And unfortunately, some of these insurgents, bandits and kidnappers are hooked to psychotropic drugs which they consume before carrying out their despicable acts. The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister once singled out scavengers under the influence of hard drugs, as the catalysts of many criminal activities, including kidnapping which are on the rise in Abuja. He declared them a threat to security as these homeless people have no means of livelihood and are willing tools to be exploited for arson and breach of public peace and order.   

Tackling the problem is a task for everyone. The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) must be diligent in regulatory compliance while the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) that is obsessed with generating revenue should be proactive in checkmating the activities of importers of these drugs into the country. There is also a need to review our value system, particularly at home and in schools. Parents have the obligation to discreetly vet the kind of company their children keep as a safeguard from being introduced to drugs and crimes. 

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