Three secondary schools in Abuja on Thursday had a heated debate on the ban on codeine-based cough syrup as the solution to drug addiction in the country.
The schools slogged it out in the 2018 Abuja Schools Debate Tournament organised by Chen Teen and Youth Development Initiative and the Ministry of Education.
The topic was: “The Ban on Cough Syrup is the Solution to Codeine Addiction in Nigeria”.
Miss Sinikiem Stephen, an SS3 student from Aduvie International School, speaking for the motion, said cough medicines taken in higher quantity affects the brain in ways similar to illegal drugs leading to addiction.
She said that the ban would make the drug less accessible to the youth and also reduce drug induced juvenile offences.
“No country would like its youth to be drug abusers. Drug addict is more likely to lead a criminal life as he will do anything to get money for the drugs.
“The downsides to abusing cough and cold medicines are as dangerous as consuming hard drugs such as opium.
“Having it readily available had made it possible for so many young people to become addicted to the drug, so it is for the best that codeine has been banned.
“Stephen also advised the government to make it compulsory for patients to have a doctor’s report before buying some other cough syrup like Tramadol.’’
She said that Tramadol was still available to everyone “and it is also as harmful as codeine’’.
Also, Miss Precious Okonkwo, an SS 2 student from Divine Mercy Secondary School agreed with the motion that the government was right to ban the consumption of any cough syrup with codeine in the country.
“Did you know that research has shown that over one billion bottles of cough syrup with codeine was consumed in Nigeria last year alone?
“Codeine has a serious side effect as it causes liver damage and brain damage if consumed in high doses.
“Also codeine abusers are most likely to behave irresponsibly causing mayhem in the society,” she said.
Speaking against the motion, Mr Evwierhoma Efetobore, an SS 2 student from Redeemer Teap International School said that banning the use of codeine was not the way to go in curbing drug abuse in the country.
“Codeine is the only effective cough and cold medicine for some people. There are people that don’t get relief from cough if there’s no codeine in the syrup.
“It doesn’t make them addicts. Codeine was used as one of the ingredients for cough syrup because of its ability to ensure quick relief.
“Therefore, banning its use will deprive such people who truly need it, ” he argued.
“Across several Nigerian cities, many young adults are known to be addicted to several drugs, but in recent years, opium-based cough syrup like codeine and tramadol have taken the lead.
The Federal Ministry of Health recently announced a ban on importation and production of codeine-based cough syrup.
According to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), about three million bottles of codeine are consumed everyday by young Nigerians across the country.
The NDLEA report showed that about 40 per cent of Nigerian youth abuse one drug or the other.
The target market in the illicit codeine trade typically consists of teenagers and young adults looking for a cheap high