Mind altering drug and pain killers are all the rave and Tramadol and Codeine are sitting pretty at the top.
Codeine is a drug used to relieve pain and to suppress cough while Tramadol is also a pain reliever. They are both opiates and are made from the same plant that gives opium; the poppy plant.
Codeine is found in children’s and adult cough syrup. You may have given your child a cough syrup with Codeine at one time or the other. If you have ever used Emzolyn cough syrup then you know the effects of codeine – the cough stops, your child goes back to sleep, you give a sigh of relief.
Tramadol on the other hand relieves mild to moderate pain but it also gives the user a feeling of:
- And Confidence
These are all good feelings for someone in pain, but the syndrome of turning something good to bad can be seen in the addiction to codeine from secondary school teenagers, university students and young adults.
And with the cheapness and unregulated availability, the potential for abuse is increasing.
Why the unregulated availability of codeine and Tramadol should interest you
The abuse of these 2 drugs are a cause for concern because you can get it anywhere and use as you like without anyone asking questions or pointing a finger at you that you’re using drugs.
Bus, bike, truck and long distance drivers, Conductors are among the abusers. Helpers that follow trucks to get chippings, sand and stone for construction, farmers, laborers and manual workers involved in intensive and hard jobs too.
After a hard day’s work they just want a relief from pain, so they visit a chemist or pharmacist who gives them Tramadol. The pain goes away but they also notice other welcome effects, they go back for more of the pain relief and the other effects ….. the cycle may have started .
And it’s not only the laborers, the 9-5 workers who want relief from a stressful day. Teenagers and young adults that are exposed to pornography discover that it enhances sexual satisfaction and also join the bandwagon.
According to a recent study the sex life of patients improved and they reported greater satisfaction with the sporadic treatment of Tramadol compared to those on placebo.
Teenagers most times start their addictive journey because of peer pressure and the desire to be cool and ultimately join the ‘cool kids’.
In an unregulated Nigerian system, it is not only sold in pharmacy without prescription, it is also sold in chemist shops, and carried in cartons and rectangular boxes by street hawkers. At first glance you may see chewing gum and minty sweets but on a closer look you will see Tramadol and other drugs nestling in the cartons. It may not have Tramadol clearly written on it, it maybe Tylenol 3, but whatever the name, the street hawkers know it’s there and know the name, the buyer also know it’s there and what to ask for.
Dealers peddle it in nightclubs; teenagers mix it with soft drinks, or drink it straight from the bottle or chew or swallow the tablet with or without any liquid at birthday parties.
And it doesn’t stop there, as tolerance develops, dependence also increases. With tolerance and dependence comes the desire to mix it with other substance like alcohol to get a better high.
In most campus parties and rave it is mixed with drinks to get everyone excited while the musicians performs. It makes them forget everything that doesn’t matter and gives them an escape route from reality.
The symptoms of Tramadol and codeine abuse include:
- Blue tinge to lips, tongue and fingernail
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Seizures (without a history of epilepsy)
- Trouble concentrating
- Increase in amount of time sleeping
- Decreased libido
- Slurred speech
- Muscle twitches
- Memory loss
- No longer caring for loved ones
- Loss of Appetite
- Dry mouth
In 2013, US rapper Lil’ Wayne suffered seizures and unconsciousness that was caused by his ingestion of very high levels of codeine. He was admitted to the intensive care unit and although he survived, his stomach was pumped to get the drug out of his system.
Some are not so lucky. They either get seriously injured from the convulsions or they become mad. Most psychiatric hospitals in Nigeria are getting high amounts of patients male and female as young as 18 years who are suffering from mental challenges as a result of Codeine or Tramadol addiction. Some of them are now being sent to rehabs to help them deal with their addiction.
The rehab is a good step because when most addicts stop it, they feel so bad from the withdrawal symptoms that they just give up and take the same drug that started the addiction to relieve the symptom.
If you are taking Tramadol or codeine, take a look at this behavior pattern; and if that is you or anyone you know it may be time to seek for help:
- Putting the getting and use of Tramadol above responsibilities like relationships, school, work or appointments
- Spending your time and a lot of energy in getting the drugs and just thinking how many you have left and how to get another
- Losing interest in things that used to be important to them
- Having a desire to quit taking Tramadol, but being unable to do so
- Continuing to take the drug despite any personal or professional problems it’s causing
The first sign of trouble is the withdrawal symptoms
What is the Government doing?
On Tuesday, May 1, 2018 the minister of health Professor Isaac Adewole, took the long awaited, necessary step in banning and regulating the importation of codeine in Nigeria as an active ingredient for cough preparations.
He also directed the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, (PCN) and NAFDAC to supervise the recall for labeling and audit trailing of all codeine containing cough syrups in the country. He also banned sales of Codeine containing cough syrup without prescription across the country.
Every time you see someone swigging a brown or dark liquid from in cola or malt cans, it may be another liquid that has nothing to do with cola and malt.
And if you notice other new and undesirable physical changes that continues over time, seek for help on time.