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How easy is it to buy cough syrup with codeine our youths are now abusing?

Codeine is unarguably one of the most abused drugs all around the globe. The abuse is predominant in Africa. Codeine is an opioid pain medication. An opioid sometimes is called a narcotic. It is used to treat mild to moderately severe pain.

According to Wikipedia, codeine is an opiate used to treat pain, as cough medicine and for diarrhoea. The misuse or abuse of this drug can cause addiction, overdose and even death.

Today, codeine in combination with drugs like cough syrups is highly abused by youths. The combination of codeine in cough syrups, such as Benylin, Parkalin, Emzolyn, Tutolin, Tuxil C and the rest (all having a special codeine combination aside the ordinary ones used for a normal cough), are initially formulated to suppress severe coughs which the brands without codeine can’t, and are sold based on prescription at all pharmacy outlets.

One would have asked the question, ‘when codeine is sold only based on prescription, how come those abusing it get it with ease?’ ENCOMIUM Weekly sampled the opinions of Nigerians on how easy it is to buy codeine which is being abused by youths day in, day out. Here are their views.


Lilian Daniels (Pharmacy attendant)

To the best of my own knowledge, codeine is a controlled drug. I have been working with my boss for close to seven years now, I have not seen him sell codeine without a prescription. He also warned that we should never sell it either.

He would say that aside those abusing it who will never come with a prescription, members of the pharmacists association too can come on a check to know if the pharmacy sells controlled drugs anyhow, and that can implicate him. My own understanding of how these people get the drug is that there is no how they won’t have the link to one pharmacy store or the other, I think that’s where they get it from.

Codeine is always expensive and these youths abusing it can walk up to a pharmacy and demand for as much as six. The person in charge might just see it as an opportunity for him to sell fast and he would sell it to them. From there, they become a regular customer.


Judith Lawrence

There is no beating around the bush as to where people buy codeine without a prescription. We have chemists stores here and there, all they want is make money, they don’t know if a drug is controlled or not. They can always get it from the chemists even if pharmacies don’t sell to them


Obafemi Ridwan

Let the truth be said, pharmacy stores sell the drug to these boys. I mean they buy it every day and the pharmacist is there to make his money back, so he would have no choice but to sell to them. That the drug is controlled is just a label. No law works in this part of the world.

The control over the drug is a mere talk, no action is being taken by the association of pharmacists towards ensuring that the drug is truly controlled. We are the ones doing ourselves, all in the name of we want to make money.


Ezinne Obasi

We are talking about desperate people here, they won’t stop at nothing to get whatever they want. If we are curious on how they get ordinary codeine that is available in every pharmacy and chemist store, then how do they get cocaine? Haven’t you thought about that? If a pharmacy refuse to sell without prescription, they can always forge it. Is this not Nigeria? I am not disputing the fact that some pharmacists bridge the law by selling it anyway, but they can always get it in all these unregistered chemists stores and those selling drugs by the road side every night.


Iseniyi Grace

Our youth are very smart, the only problem is that they won’t use their smartness for productive things. They know where to get all these drugs. They know the pharmacy stores that will sell to them without prescription and they know those that won’t. Besides, all these nurses who have shops where they sell drugs too sell these things. If it is hard to get, not much people will abuse it. But as it is now, a great percentage of our youths abuse the drugs, that shows its easy to get.


– Azeezat Kareem



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