The issue of drug abuse has become a source of concern among youths and many say it is the primary reason why many youths have been incarcerated, as well as being a source of crime and health problems in the society.
A recent survey on the prevalence of drug abuse among adolescents in Nigeria indicates that 65% of secondary school students use drugs to have a good time, 54% just wants to experiment to see what it is like and 20 to 40 % use drugs to alter their moods.

Here is a confession of a 21 years old Codeine Cough Syrup Addict:

My name is Fatima. I am a student of one of the tertiary institutions in Kano State, Nigeria. I have been taking this drug for years. I take five bottles of codeine cough syrup in a day; when I feel pressure in my head, I take a whole bottle. I take the codeine cough syrup out of frustration because a loved one betrayed me. My friends introduced me to it, now I am addicted to it. It is cheap and easy to access in the environment. I tried to stop myself from taking it but I cannot.

According to the Nigerian government, in just two states in Nigeria, 3million bottles are consumed every day.

Sani Usaini, a rehabilitation officer in Kano said the people in his care are experiencing withdrawal symptoms (weakness and shaking)and some are quite violent.

“It is really alarming. We used to get two or three addicts in a week but now we get up to ten in a week. It really breaks my heart to see children and young men here this way. It is really bad and everyone knows the codeine situation, It’s not a hidden thing. This is a serious issue that affects everybody; going from one home to another. No one is safe really.”

Here is the educative account of a recovering addict in another part of the world:
I am a recovering drug addict. My mum hates it when I call myself a recovering drug addict – I believe refusing to be identified as that would be to deny an extremely important part of my daily existence. I was in an act of addiction for about nine to ten months of my life and I have been in recovery for over two years now, I am incredibly proud of this progress.
Addiction is a mental illness; it affects the brains of the people who suffer from it. It is really debilitating in some cases and can be fatal; it cost some people their lives. Unlike many mental illnesses, there are heavy stigmas attached to it because for some reason the brain is an organ that we do not really acknowledge when it gets sick in the overall society.

With addiction, it is a little bit trickier because there is personal responsibility involved as some people got themselves into that condition. This is partially true as there are other factors involved.
There is the circumstance of birth; there are heavy links to genetics.

I personally have a genetic history on my parents’ sides so I was predisposed from birth to addictive behaviour.

Now, I do not mean the addict should be absolved of responsibilities because they are sick. Mental illness is not an excuse for bad behaviour however, with addiction; it does explain the behaviour in a very sad way.
Addiction pretty much takes away everything that makes one a human being, it strips you of empathy, compassion and replaces it with just one desire – one priority; It is “using”.

People are generally worried about their jobs, relationships, grades, plans and their lives. An addict is worried about one thing only, this part is really debilitating because that one thing for me, was one thing I loved with all my heart but at the same time hated with every fibre of my being.

However, that’s the only thing I could think about, the only thing I could plan for, the only thing I needed. While this in itself is a terrible state already, then there is the added social stigma.
People label addicts, junkies or screw-ups and other names, which may be justified, but there is severe lack of compassion for what addicts go through.

Again, personal responsibility is incredibly important but you cannot discipline someone who is “using”, you can provide consequences in a way that is compassionate and show love to them.

One thing I am fortunate to have during my experience was the fact that even though I was messing up, receiving consequences all round, I was still loved the entire time and I am sure it has helped many people who are successful.
You can imagine for someone like me who bases his entire existence on emotions, compassion and empathy – to be stripped of that is to be stripped of everything that I stand for in life.

To be honest, I felt a shell of who I was and I did not want to be that way, I did not want to be lying around all day doing nothing; not eating, not sleeping, literally not doing anything with my life. I did not want to be that way but I did that because that was all that mattered to me at that time.

I will say I am very lucky. My period of abuse was very short and I was able to get myself out before any severe damage was done but there is still damage that has to be dealt with. I deal with it every single day of my life.

I am coming out to say this for the millions of people suffering right now, people who are not privileged to have the resources and compassion that I have, for the people who are thrown out, stepped on, treated like crap and called junkies and those disrespected every time.

The point is these addicts are people who are either looking for a way out or an end to it all. You can guess the end of the many people who cannot find a way out. This is sad to me and should be for everybody.

I want to believe if you’re reading this, you must have been touched by addiction one way or the other; maybe yourself, or through a family member, a friend or somebody you know because addiction does not discriminate race, class, nation, religion, culture, etc. it does not discriminate. It affects every demographic of humanity.

While I cannot offer you a solution to the problem, I can say the best way often times, to get help is to be there for the addict, and be there to lend a hand and say, “if you’re willing to take this hand, I will help you and I will be here to drag you out”. Often times, that is really all you can do.

The journey to recovery can be devastating for the addict and his or her loved ones. Your encouragement is a necessary ingredient in your loved one’s recovery and rehabilitation process.”
That’s Connor, a citizen of the United States of America.

But what is the fate of the addicts in Nigeria?

Click here to find out.