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The most trafficked drugs in Nigeria and their effects

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According to the NDLEA, cannabis, cocaine, heroin and Methamphetamine are the most trafficked drugs in Nigeria.

Here, ENCOMIUM Weekly takes a look at each and their effects…



Cannabis is a depressant drug, which means it slows down messages travelling between your brain and body. When large doses of cannabis are taken, it may also produce hallucinogenic effects. The main active chemical in cannabis is THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol).

Other terms for it are marijuana, pot, weed, hash, dope, gunja, joint, stick, Kronic (synthetic form), cone, choof, dabs, dabbing.



The effects of cannabis may vary based on the individual, but generally they include: feeling relaxed and sleepy, spontaneous laughter and excitement, increased appetite, dry mouth, quiet and reflective mood. If a large amount is taken, the person may in addition to the foregoing experience: lack of concentration, blurred vision, clumsiness, slower reflexes, bloodshot eyes, seeing and hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t there), increased heart rate, low blood pressure, mild anxiety and paranoia.

Long-term effects include memory loss, learning difficulties, mood swings, colds and flu, etc.



Cocaine is a strong addictive drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to the Southern America region. It produces short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in addition to potentially dangerous physical effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.

It is an effective Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant that increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in brain circuits regulating pleasure and movement.

Normally, dopamine is released by neurons in these circuits in response to potential rewards (like the smell of good food), which is then recycled back into the cell that released it, thus shutting off the signal between neurons. Cocaine prevents the dopamine from being recycled, causing excessive amounts to build up in the synapse (junction between neurons). This amplifies the dopamine signal and ultimately disrupts normal brain communication. It is this

flood of dopamine that causes cocaine’s characteristic high.



Cocaine affects the body in different ways such as constricting blood vessels, dilating pupils, and high body temperature. As well as increased heart rate and blood pressure. It also causes headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal complications.

More seriously, cocaine users risk heart attacks or stroke, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest followed by an arrest of breathing.



Heroin or diacetylmorphine is derived from the morphine alkaloid found in opium but is more potent. A highly addictive drug, heroin possesses euphoric, anxiolytic and analgesic central nervous system properties.

Heroin is mostly intravenously injected, but it can also be vaporised  (that is smoked), sniffed, used as a suppository, or taken orally.



Heroin users (especially through injection) usually report feeling a surge of euphoria (called the “rush”) accompanied by warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial rush, the user experiences an alternately wakeful and weak, drowsy state. The mind becomes clouded as depression sets in.

Other effects include, respiratory depression, constricted pupils and nausea, slow and shallow breathing, hypertension, convulsions, coma, etc.



Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) refer to a group of drugs that stimulate the Central Nervous System (CNS) and speed up the travel of messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

Its principal members include, amphetamine and methamphetamine (which is the most trafficked of this category in Nigeria). A range of other substances that also fall into this category are methcathinone, fenetylline, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and methylphenidate.

The most common methods of ATS use are smoking, sniffing and inhaling.



The immediate effects of stimulants include headache, insomnia, sweating, exhaustion, apathy and depression. It is this immediate and lasting exhaustion that quickly leads the stimulant user to want the drug again, leading to over dependence and addiction.

Repeated high doses of some stimulants over a short period can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia, high body temperatures and irregular heartbeat.



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