National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has said that the cough syrup, Codeine, is the most abused drug in Nasarawa State.
Mr Sumaila Ethan, NDLEA Commander in the state made the disclosure at a news conference held at the agency’s state headquarters in Lafia on Tuesday to commemorate 2017 UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
Ethan expressed sadness on the rampant use of the syrup, adding that it was widely abused by both men, women, teenage boys and girls across the state, thereby causing grave concern for authorities and parents.
He said “it is the reality in Nasarawa State; Codeine is the most abused drug in the state.
“We gathered through reliable intelligence that codeine is more abused than any other drug. That is why we are calling on parents and well-wishers to always be on alert.”
The commander explained that the huge challenge in curbing the rampant abuse of the drug stemmed from the fact that it was a cough syrup bought over the counter and legally approved to be used in treating cough.
He added that anyone could walk into a pharmacy and buy it, “so, its easy accessibility and availability is a major challenge for us even though these shops are not expected to sell without prescription.”
Ethan said the only effective way of reducing the rampant use of codeine in the state was through useful intelligence.
He this was the reason why the command recently deployed intelligence officers to gather information on how to reduce the rampant use of the drug.
He revealed that the command had secured convictions of 39 drug barons out of 42 arrested, and had rehabilitated 171 drug users.
He said the 42 drug barons were arrested between July 2016 and June 2017 in various locations in the state with about 700 kilogrammes of narcotic drugs seized during the period.
“The high rate of convictions may have contributed to reducing the rate of drug trafficking in the state.
“Our aggressive counselling programme also ensured that 171 drug users were rehabilitated, some came for the rehabilitation out of their own free will,” he said.
He urged parents to strengthen their relationship with their children to prevent drug abuse and other vices inimical to societal peace and development.
He said the global theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Listen first’.
”When parents reach out to young persons, listen to them and share in their concerns, then help them build positive attitudes and relevant skills needed to prevent drug abuse and vices,” he said.
The 2017 UN International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was supposed to kick-start on June 26 which is the day chosen every year for the celebration.
However, due to the Muslim celebration of Eid-el fitr to mark the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, it was shifted to June 27 and ended on July 4 with a press conference.