Saturday INDEPENDENT states that this time, it is Dr. Meyer’s Orheptal. So, next time you see your child with a bottle of blood tonic, be more vigilant as it may be a scam!
Orheptal, a blood-forming tonic which also contains 13.5% Ethanol in regular dosage for adults is 15ml three times daily with or before meals. Reports, however, reveal that many youths simply consume the elixir by the bottle without care for the prescribed dosage.
The trend is quite worrisome because several reported cases of a long list of illicit drugs and chemicals consumed by youths have led to suicide, depression and other grave sicknesses of the body and mind.
Speaking with medical professionals, Saturday INDEPENDENT gathered that many parents remain oblivious of their wards’ addiction to many of these originally medicinal drugs. When the children begin to act up, feel faint or even become mentally unstable, they do not realise that what they are seeing is the effect of a drug overdose. Instead, they try to treat the symptoms with things like milk, which sometimes compound the problem.
Mrs. Seyi Adetilewa, a mother of three, who is also a teacher, shared her opinion on the latest switch to Orheptal as a get-high drug. She said, “What likely happens is that they are taking an overdose, or they are mixing it with cocktails. They sit and mix three, four or five different chemicals, and even some other unimaginable things. The people that are involved are mostly youths and teenagers. A lot of times when they take these drugs, they are within their home or known environment. They mask it because they don’t want their parents to know. Imagine that a mother notices that her son now cooks noodles for himself, and prefers to cook it alone. What she does not realise is that he mixes Indian hemp with the noodles. That is their new favourite meal; they powder the Indian hemp and apply it even in your presence just as if they are adding spices. If a parent sees his or her child making noodles and adding spices, they simply assume its regular seasoning. But these youths call it ‘weedomie’ (weed and Indomie). It is the same with Orheptal. If you notice your child drinking Orheptal, you might simply think he or she is sick. Whereas he or she has added other things. So in an attempt to mask it and be deceptive about it, it is possible for them to use something like Orheptal that parents won’t notice.”
According to Deji Idowu, a Lagos based pharmacist, it is a real epidemic.
“Go to every gathering where there are youths, over 80 % of them are doing drugs. In higher institutions, especially among the boys, close to 70% of them are doing it. As far as they are concerned, it is snacks. Even children from responsible and respectable homes do it when they get to school. Anyone that knows the magnitude of their abuse will know that it is really something that everybody has to be involved. It is so bad now that it has become like liking sweet for these youths. The worst part of it is that they have now brought ingenuity and creativity into the abuse. Before, drug addicts would probably smoke Indian hemp or use Codeine or any of those things. Now they mix it, they do it in cocktail form,” he said.
Going further, Idowu explained, “These days, teenagers have birthday parties and the only thing they serve is drugs. This is a birthday that would have 30 to 40 guests, and they won’t serve any food or any conventional drink. What they do is to make a cocktail of these things. They mix tramadol with cocaine and soak Indian hemp, mix it and add fruit juice. That’s the only thing they would serve at that party. That for them is fun. This is what is fuelling criminal activities.
“There was an information I got sometimes last year that the amount of codeine that was bought in Lagos and transported to Borno, Yobe, and Taraba alone is about two or three times more than what all other parts of Nigeria is using. I believe it is going directly to Boko Haram Camp. Now you can understand why a 20 year-old would just pick up a gun and is not concerned about human life and can just shoot or kill anyone. By the time he has taken all those things, he is no longer alone; he is with a number of spirits.”
Dr David Nze, a medical doctor equally weighed in on the issue. “Orheptal on a normal day with the appropriate dosage will not make a person high, because even though it contains alcohol, you are only supposed to take about 10 to 15ml. If you drink more, of course, your alcohol intake has increased and that will make you high. In the days of codeine, it was the same. Codeine is a cough syrup that has been used for ages. At the normal 10 to 15ml, it just works as a cough syrup and you won’t have any alcoholic effect. But these guys would buy two bottles and drink it at once. So if the normal dose is about 15ml and you drink two bottles, which is 200ml, imagine the level of overdose.”
According to Dr. Olubiyi Kufo, former chairman of Medical Guild Lagos State chapter,” the consequences of abuse of the drug is severe. It is like overdosing, there will be an effect on the liver, kidney and the nervous system. It will cause a lot of harm if you abuse drugs. If someone takes the actual dosage prescribed by a doctor or a pharmacist, the drug has no effect. If a drug is being abused, it should be stopped immediately, but it should be done by law. A lot of drugs are gotten in Nigeria without a prescription, which is very wrong. If you go to Ghana, simple drugs that are easily accessible here in Nigeria cannot be gotten without prescription in Ghana. In Nigeria, our system operates like we do not know what we are doing.”
During research by Saturday INDEPENDENT, other drugs, which were discovered to be commonly abused, include depressants like Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, and Phenobarbital. For Opioid and Morphine derivatives, drugs like Empirin with Codeine; Fiorinal with Codeine and Robitussin A-C, Tylen were fingered. Stimulants include Biphetamine, Dexedrine and Adderall.