The National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has attributed the high rate and rampant abuse of codeine syrup and other dangerous drugs in the country to the proliferation of unregistered patent medicine stores.
Alhaji Hamza Umar, the Commandant of the agency in Kano State, said this while speaking on how to stem drug abuse, especially among youths and women.
Umar who was represented by the Principal Staff Officer in charge of Operations and Investigation of NDLEA in Kano, noted that there are many unregistered patent medicine stores across the state, especially in areas where public healthcare facilities are lacking.
“The patent medicine stores located across the state are many in Kano and they are mainly used for first aid for immediate relief of sickness before going to hospital if it persist,’’ he said.
Umar described the activities of such medicine stores in the state as risky to the society because, according to him, the agencies that are supposed to control them were not strengthened to enforce regulation.
He said “If the operation of patent medicine stores, especially those that are into the business of selling cough syrups illegally without prescription are not checked, the abuse of codeine syrup and other drugs will continue in the state. Those patent medicine stores are supposed to be registered by the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria with the aim of serving the public when the need arises’’.
The commandant regretted that majority of the users of the syrup are young men and women who are addicted to cough syrups, especially the codeine.
Umar noted that “first time users of such syrups consume it out of curiosity, and there are those who use it occasionally while others are addicted because they are regular users’’.
According to him, the syrups are of different brands and the brand determines their prices.
“There is Tutoline which is sold at N200; Bioline is sold at N1, 500, while Codeine and Parkline cost N1,200 and N700, respectively,’’ said the commandant.
He added that the use of such syrups has social effects, including pushing the users into acts of stealing, kidnapping, terrorism, prostitution, extravagancy and destination.
According to Umar, the psychological effects of the syrups includes but not limited to depression, selflessness, stimulation, and mental weakness or illness.
The physiological effects are more on the brain, liver, heart, skin and other organs of the body, he said.
The commandant said the agency is making efforts to rid the state of drug abuse through the arrest of users, seizures of the illicit drugs from the dealers and their arrest.
“After we arrest the dealers, we prosecute them, while we educate the users on the negative effects of the syrups, sensitise them through the various medium of communication. We have embarked on enlightenment campaign to the target audience on the dangers of drug abuse. In addition, we counsel and rehabilitate the addicted ones and at the end we reintegrate them into the society and unite them with their families,” Umar said.
He acknowledged the support of the Kano State Government in fighting the menace, noting the setting up of a recent joint task force comprising all security agencies in the state.