Tag Archives: drug abuse

The Implication of the Local Production of Methamphetamine in Nigeria

In Mar 2016, it was reported in Nigerian Newspapers that four Mexicans and four Nigerians were arrested in Asaba, a town in south of Nigeria for producing methamphetamine in the country. Their drug factory produced between 3,000 kg to 4,000 kg of methamphetamine per production cycle. I recently found out most Nigerians don’t know about methamphetamine mainly abused as Crystal Meth or the implications of producing it in Nigeria.

What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is known by different names – meth, crank, chalk or speed.  It is a synthetic (man-made) chemical, unlike cocaine, for instance, which comes from a plant. It is commonly manufactured in illegal, hidden laboratories, mixing various forms of amphetamine (another stimulant drug) or derivatives with other chemicals to boost its potency.

It is a white crystalline drug that people inhaling through the nose, smoking, injecting with a needle or take orally. It develops a strong desire to continue using it because the drug creates a false sense of happiness and well-being—a rush (strong feeling) of confidence, hyper-activeness and energy. One also experiences decreased appetite.

These drug effects generally last from six to eight hours, but can last up to twenty-four hours. The first experience might involve some pleasure, but from the start, methamphetamine begins to destroy the user’s life.

The laboratory discovered

Four Mexicans and four Nigerians were arrested in Nigeria for producing methamphetamine in the country. Image credit: Sahara Reporters

According to head of the country’s drug law enforcement agency, NDLEA, Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, the drug cartel used the synthesis method of production, a more complex method that does not need ephedrine which has a similar chemical structure to amphetamines and is a methamphetamine analogue. He noted that methamphetamine laboratory, which is similar to the ones found in Mexico, is the first to be discovered in the country.

Effect of methamphetamine abuse

This drug is new to Nigerians and many do not know about it so most of the methamphetamine produced in the discovered laboratory are meant to be trafficked out to countries that have high demand for the drug. How never mass production of methamphetamine in Nigeria could increase the rate of abuse of the drug in the country. According to Drug Free world, methamphetamine abuse can cause short-term effects like:

  • Loss of appetite and Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Dilation of pupils and Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea and Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behaviour
  • Hallucinations, hyper-excitability, irritability, Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions, seizures and death from high doses.

And long-term effects like:

  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in the nose if sniffed
  • Respiratory (breathing) problems if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
  • Malnutrition, weight loss and Severe tooth decay
  • Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
  • Strong psychological dependence
  • Psychosis and Depression
  • Damage to the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and epilepsy

Read: What Happens to the Baby of a Nursing Mother who Abuses Codeine or Tramadol

Public and environmental health concerns

Pollution linked to methamphetamine production poses a grave danger to humans as the production process requires some toxic chemicals. The NDLEA boss noted that, “Methamphetamine dump pollutes the environment. This is because, for every one pound of methamphetamine produced, about three to six pounds of toxic waste is created. This can contaminate the water table within 500 meters radius from the laboratory. Even plants close to the dump were found to be dead. The laboratory contains highly poisonous solvents and gasses,”. He explained that some of the materials used in the drug’s production are capable of an explosion while other are linked to cancer.

Read: Hazardous Waste in Nigeria: Problems and Challenges

The NDLEA stated that funds would be required to enable the agency to detect laboratories producing illicit drugs, to acquire protective kits for its agents, and to decontaminate production sites. Colonel Abdallah estimated the cost of cleaning up the laboratory in Asaba at N35 million.

The NDLEA explained that a methamphetamine laboratory could be identified by its secretive operations or detected by the irritation and smell caused by chemicals as well as colored water appearing in sewage. The agency warned that any houses used for methamphetamine production should be avoided while chemical containers must not be put to domestic use.

Read: The New Technology of Managing Pollution with Agricultural Waste

What Happens to the Baby of a Nursing Mother who Abuses Codeine or Tramadol

I know a young woman who was so addicted to codeine. Even when she was pregnant she was always high on codeine. She carried her pregnancy without experiencing any complication and her baby was delivered with ease, and then her abuse of codeine increased. I don’t know how much of the drug got to the baby while in the womb but after birth it was obvious that the baby was getting this drug through breast milk. The baby hardly cried and was always asleep. This nursing mother couldn’t stop or slow down her intake of codeine so the baby had to be taken away from her.

A lot of young people abuse codeine and tramadol to get a euphoric high, low, slow or strong feeling. This has become a societal problem because the abuse of these drugs like other opiates has many adverse effects more especially on babies and young children.

Codeine is a moderately strong opiate drug that is used in pain relief and for the suppression of coughs. Tramadol is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain But strong or weak, these drugs are addictive with many symptoms of use in common with other opiates.

According to the New York Times, the United State Food and Drug Administration announced that any child younger than 12 should not take the opioid codeine and that those 18 and younger should not take tramadol, another painkiller, after certain types of surgery. In addition, nursing mothers should avoid both opioids because they pose dangers to breast-feeding babies.

The agency said, drug manufacturers will be required to update their package inserts to show the new contradictions, the strongest kind of warning, to alert doctors and parents that children can have trouble breathing or die after taking these drugs. Some over-the-counter cough or cold remedies contain codeine, so parents should read all labels to avoid accidentally giving it to their child.

Teenagers with certain conditions like severe lung disease, obesity or obstructive sleep apnoea that can impair breathing may be at particular risk, the agency cautioned.

According to New York Times, these warnings were prompted by a recent review of rare but alarming reports of life-threatening side effects from the drugs. Between January 1969 and May 2015, the F.D.A. identified 24 deaths and 40 cases of serious breathing difficulties in children younger than 18 worldwide tied to drugs that contain codeine. Of the 24 deaths, 21 occurred in children under 12.

The use of tramadol was linked to three deaths and six cases of respiratory troubles in children under 18 between January 1969 and March 2016. All of the deaths occurred outside the United States and involved tramadol given in oral drops, a formulation not available in this country. One case in the United States involved a 6-year-old who became unresponsive after a third dose of tramadol and fully recovered after two doses of naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdose.

The problem with both codeine and tramadol is that some people are “ultrarapid metabolizers” whose livers metabolize the drugs much too quickly, causing dangerously high levels of opioids to build up, said Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, the deputy director for regulatory programs at the F.D.A.’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. No test can identify who might metabolize the drug too quickly, and that is why the agency issued blanket warnings for children by age.

Certain ethnic groups may be especially sensitive to the drugs. Up to 10 percent of whites, for instance, are fast metabolizers, compared with up to 4 percent of African-Americans and up to 2 percent of East Asians. And more than 10 percent of people of Puerto Rican and Middle Eastern descent may be fast metabolizers.

Any breast-feeding mother could also be an ultrarapid metabolizer and not know it, and unwittingly pass on high levels of opioids to her nursing baby through breast milk. Excessive sleepiness, limpness, breathing troubles or even death can result.

“Because we can’t easily figure which children or nursing mothers specifically are at greater risk of ultra-rapid metabolism of codeine and tramadol, today we are requiring manufacturers of prescription codeine and tramadol products to make important labeling changes to protect those children who are at greater risk,” Dr. Throckmorton said.