Cover Stories

Codeine, hemp, Rohypnol and other stimulants Nigerian youths take

Drug abuse is now prevalent more than ever among Nigerian youths! Though the use of illicit drugs is not a new trend, it is growing at an alarming rate with more ‘leaders of tomorrow’ embracing drug abuse for varying reasons.

Gone are the days when drug use was regarded as a stigma, with users generally hiding in their closets to indulge in the act. Fast forward to the present and the story has changed significantly. Young Nigerians now consider drug use as ‘cool’ and are quick to boast of their prowess in taking stimulants. Even our Ivory towers are not spared as investigation has revealed that more students in our higher institutions are fast joining the drug train, smoking away their future for the pleasure of getting high…


Indian hemp, otherwise called Igbo, Tafe or Weed is the most common and readily available drug on the streets of Nigeria. Not only is it easily accessible in terms of availability, it is relatively cheap as a pinch of weed sells for only N50. This is arguably the most popular and most used drug among Nigerian youths. Cannabis, now as common as sachets water, can be easily purchased on the streets, bars and night clubs. It is also common to see several peddlers whistling for customers during musical concerts.

A dealer at a popular hemp spot in Obalende, Lagos, Mr. Moroof, told ENCOMIUM Weekly that he makes a lot of money selling the drug. “As you can see, we are many selling Igbo here because the demand is astronomical. People like saying that it is garage boys that smoke Igbo but it is not true. People that patronize us include politicians, soldiers, policemen, students and even office men that come and hide under our sheds here and smoke. After smoking, they will spray perfume to cover the odour,” he revealed.

Effects of hemp on smokers:

Loss of coordination and distortions in the sense of time, vision and hearing, sleepiness, reddening of the eyes, increased appetite and relaxed muscles. Heart beat can speed up. In fact, in the first hour of smoking marijuana, a user’s risk of a heart attack could increase fivefold. School performance is reduced through impaired memory and lessened ability to solve problems.

Long-term use can cause psychotic symptoms. It can also damage the lungs and the heart, worsen the symptoms of bronchitis and cause coughing and wheezing. It may reduce the body’s ability to fight lung infections and illness


Skunk or SK for short, is what some people refer to as the elder brother of Indian hemp. This is because it is much stronger than hemp and is a bit more expensive though it is as easy to get because it is sold by the same peddlers. Skunk is a mixture of weed and some element of cocaine and dried leaves and is sold for N100 a pinch on the streets. SK is a drug for the strong, and more youths, including ladies are happy to try it to prove their ‘ruggedity’ as it were.

Effects of SK on smokers:

The effect of SK are similar to those of hemp.


Any quick visit to the pharmacy will confirm that the craze for cough syrups is high. This is not because there is a cough outbreak, but the stimulating effect of codeine in these cough syrups.

Codeine – which is to be derived from the opium poppy and is related to morphine and heroin – is being abused by Nigerian youths at an alarming rate. Codeine, or Coder as it is fondly called, has become a favourite for many drug abusers because it is very easy to obtain over the counter at big and small medicine stores alike. Abuse of cough syrup is on the increase in many parts of the country, especially in higher institutions of learning and is spreading like wild fire. Sold between N600 and N800 per bottle, abusers of this drug drink up to a bottle or two at a time. It is commonly mixed with soft drinks like Coke, Fanta or Pepsi. The main reason for the increased use of codeine is the euphoric effects associated with opiates.

A frequent user of codeine who spoke with ENCOMIUM Weekly on the reasons she uses the drug, Miss Opeyemi said, “I tried it for the first time about a year ago and ever since, I take at least a bottle every day. I mix it with chilled coke and sip with straw.” Asked why she keeps using it and if she was considering quitting anytime soon, she replied, “Why should I want to stop using coder? It is not as if I disturb anybody with it. It makes me feel real good and at peace with myself. I don’t see any reason to stop.”

Effects of codeine:

Common adverse effects associated with the use of codeine include drowsiness and constipation. Less common are euphoria, itching, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, depression and coughing.


Rohypnol tablets. Strong sedative & widely known as a 'date rape' drug.Rohypnol is another commonly abused drug among Nigerian youths.  Also known as Roofies on the street, Rohypnol is popular with youths because of its fast action and the fact that the effect doesn’t wear off in time. It takes just within 15 to 20 minutes of administration and, depending on the amount ingested, may persist for more than 12 hours. Rohypnol is a date rape drug with criminally inclined young men often use, lacing the drinks of young, unsuspecting young women with it in order to render them helpless as they helped themselves with their privates.

Rohypnol shot to national prominence when it was discovered to be the substance with which the late Cynthia Osokogu was drugged before she was raped and murdered. Despite the deafening noise by government officials, including the health ministry and the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), about banning the drug and making it difficult for drug to be purchased without a doctor’s prescription, the drug is still much accessible to Nigerian youths.

Effects of Rohypnol

Under Rohypnol, individuals experience a slowing of psychomotor performance, muscle relaxation, decreased blood pressure, sleepiness, and/or amnesia. Some of the adverse side effects associated with the drug’s use are drowsiness, headaches, memory impairment, dizziness, nightmares, confusion, and tremors. Although classified as a depressant, Rohypnol can induce aggression and/or excitability

Popular Combinations

Drug users on most occasions do not take these drugs in isolation. Some of the popular drug combinations include Marijuana/SK + Alcohol, Codeine + Marijuana/SK, Rohypnol + SK/Marijuana etc.


Cocaine-Addiction-TreatmentAlthough cocaine and heroin are not as widely used as weed, SK or codeine. They are not as exclusive or out of reach as they once were. Cocaine is now dispensed in little wraps for as low as N500 and more youths are trying the substance, especially those who have ‘conquered’ lesser drugs like weed and SK and desire an upgrade. The drug, is however, still used mostly by youths from wealthy background as the less affluent ones stick to the more affordable substances. Cocaine use is on the increase among university and polytechnic undergraduates as it is perceived as a confirmation of one’s big boy status. More worrisome is the fact that teenagers are more than ever indulging in the abuse of these drugs.

Effects of Cocaine:

Users of cocaine feel on top of the world. It makes them feel super confident and often leads them to take careless risks. Other effects include, high temperature, reduced feeling of hunger, fast heartbeat and flu-like feeling.


X4H-938629This is a painkiller that is often prescribed for moderate to extreme pain such as from arthritis. It is sold for just N100 per satchet. This drug is a narcotic, which means that users may be at risk of addiction if they use it for a long period. Addiction is characterized by feeling a compulsive need to take the drug more frequently than has been prescribed, desperation to obtain more and the inability to function without the drug.

Tramadol works by blocking pain signals traveling between the nerves and the brain. As a result, users may get high on Tramadol, even if that was not their intention when they first started taking the drug. This drug is not as common among Nigerian youths yet but is accessible in major pharmacies. It is sold for.

Effects of Tramadol include:

Elated mood. Tramadol works in a similar way to many antidepressant medications in that it increases the levels of serotonin in your brain. This leads to feelings of euphoria and well-being. Some users become addicted to Tramadol because of these feelings.

Anxiety reduction. Tramadol helps users feel relaxed and calm because of the way it changes brain chemistry.

Lack of pain. Tramadol is a painkiller; it blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain so that you don’t feel pain while you are taking it. This can be dangerous if you injure yourself because you won’t feel the pain while on Tramadol.

A Tramadol addict, Miss Pamilerin while recounting her ordeal with the drug explained to ENCOMIUM Weekly that she was introduced to the drug by a friend who brought it from the UK and now, she cannot do without it. “If I don’t take Tramadol, my body will be in pain all over and I will be itching everywhere. I tried to stop before but I had to go back when the pain was too much. I can’t do without it now”, she said.


It is also worthy of mention that the use of aphrodisiacs or libido boosters, popularly called manpower on the streets or qurantanshi by people from the northern part of the country, or aleko  in the South West is also prominent among the youths as well as sexually active men to boost their sexual performances. While the uneducated are mostly associated with local gin mixed with herbs for solutions such as sepe, paraga, opa eyin, etc, the educated ones and students are big on drinks like Alomo Bitters and the other ever-increasing list of bitters solutions.

Effects of aphrodisiacs:

Local libido boosters such as paraga, shepe, ope eyin sell for as low as N50 per shot, while a bottle of Alomo Bitters sells for N250. Other bitters are available between N200 and N400.





About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.