Over 3m bottles of codeine syrup are consumed daily in Kano and Jigawa states by women and youths, the Senate said yesterday.
The revelation was sequel to the adoption of a motion by Senator Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai (APC,Borno) and 37 others on the need to check the rising menace of pharmaceutical drug abuse among youths.
The motion was seconded by Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano). Garbai said research has shown that abusers of the codeine syrup in Kano and Jigawa states take up to 3 to 8 bottles per day.
He said while the abuse of prescriptive drugs and cough syrups had been thought to be a problem typical in the North-Western part of the country, investigations have shown an incredible spike in drug-abuse in Borno State and the Northeast ravaged by Boko Haram.
“The increasing abuse of cough and prescriptive drugs, among the youth and women across the 19 northern states has resulted in meaningless deaths, rendered them largely unproductive and has devastated many upper and middle class families in the region.
“There are several reports about young girls in tertiary institutions, who have taken to an alarming abuse of the codeine cough syrup, which is often taken, mixed with soft drink. This problem is destroying even mothers in homes, as they use same codeine and other drugs as an escape from their abusive relationships and invariably get hooked on them,” he said.
He said the abuse of cough syrup has become so widespread in recent years, that even secondary school students use them regularly.
“The pharmaceutical drug abuse is threatening a generation of northern Nigerian women including, young girls in tertiary institutions, working class ladies, married women, unemployed women, displaced women from the Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Senator Aliyu Wamakko said the problem of drug abuse was not peculiar to the north; hence it should be treated as a national menace.
Accordingly, the Senate mandated it’s Joint Committee on Drugs and Narcotics and Health to bring forward a legislative intervention needed to combat the trend.
It also urged the Federal Government to partner with states, local governments, traditional rulers, Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, NGOs to create a holistic framework in fighting this category of drug abuse.
The Upper chamber also urged the Federal Government to establish rehabilitation centres/clinics for the victims of drug abuse.
Senate President Bukola Saraki said the NDLEA and PCN acts should be amended to capture the development. He also said a roundtable would be convened by the Senate to proffer a lasting solution to the menace.