Young people all over the world have remarkably developed in thinking and sensitivity to certain social practices which may not necessarily have a positive impact on their general wellbeing. While the forward-looking ones among them are busy exploiting their creative potentials in the fields of the arts, engineering, science and technology, there are those, who for the inordinate ambition to create social disruption, are towing paths that can only lead to their destruction.
The menace of drug abuse has, in recent times, taken sophisticated dimensions – to the extent that psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health experts have continued to cry out, warning that the world’s most productive population may soon parade a generation of mentally ill people. The reasons are not far-fetched. The indiscriminate combination of different narcotic and clinical drugs to form psychotropic cocktails is one of the biggest issues that mental health practitioners have had to grapple with lately.
Unlike in the past, when marijuana was the main substance abused by young and old people alike, these days, the feeling of highness is much sought after in harmfully creative ways, without regards to their health implications. Drugs like tramadol and codeine which were originally used for pain and cough, respectively, have been converted to hard drugs by our youth, whose dangerous ingenuity can only lead to graver problems for the society.
In Ikotun, Lagos, where I reside, drug and substance abuse has become the norm. According to some young men whom I interacted with, taking drugs helps boost their morale and self-confidence and that is why they can dare anyone without batting an eye. Some of them boast that a combination of tramadol, codeine and some alcoholic cocktails gives them the libidinal wherewithal to unleash their sexual rage on their girlfriends and other unfortunate young women who may cross their path.
It is no longer news that there is a serious correlation between the rising cases of rape and other forms of criminality and the abuse of drugs by young people. As I noted above, one big issue is the fact that marijuana is no longer as fashionable as it used to be as new innovations have almost relegated the ancient herb to the dustbin of history. This is not to say with a tone of finality that young people no longer take marijuana. The truth is that alternatives like skunk (SK), Arizona, Colorado, ice and loud have flooded the market, and their patrons are the very young people into whose hands the future of the nation is supposed to be entrusted.
Unfortunately, most of the youths are not interested in the future of the nation, largely because they feel the leadership of the nation has failed to address basic issues pertaining to their welfare and development; and so, they have chosen their own path with the gusto of untamed rascality. For them, there is no time to even check time; it is either they bend life to their whims and caprices or the die in the hustle. This sordid orientation has blinded them to the fact that hard work and patience pay. They would rather die getting high and venturing into criminality than wait for their time.
For enlightenment purposes, it would be expedient to look at the two major narcotic alternatives that are rampantly being abused by our young people today. Arizona, which derives its name from a state in the United States of America is a variant of marijuana, produced by putting the original cannabis through some chemical processes to distort its chemistry and ultimately imbue it with a stronger level of potency. Those who smoke Arizona have said that the smell that emanates from it is quite distinct from that which comes from pure marijuana. Moreover, it intoxicates gradually, unlike marijuana which effects can be felt almost immediately.
As for Colorado, it best typifies a kiss of death, as just a puff can land someone in the deepest abyss of self-destruction. Described as the “elder brother” of Arizona, it is synthetic marijuana or, more appropriately, a collection of man-made chemicals that mimic the effect of marijuana. It is usually wrapped in brightly-coloured packs. Some people who have tasted this wrap of death have not recovered, even after many months of receiving medical attention. Colorado has a spontaneous way of distorting human cognition and leaving the victim in a stupefied state for long.
Psychiatrists and other health experts have a serious challenge in their hands and so do the officers and men of the National Drug Law Enforcement agency. NAFDAC and other relevant stakeholders should take this matter seriously, especially now that clinical drugs like tramadol and codeine have been converted into hard drugs.