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Common Drugs Abused in Nigeria and their Effects on our Health | Dangers

Common drugs abused in Nigeria are those drugs which are taken by Nigerian citizen with proper consultation of a health specialist or medical doctor. In other words, a drug according to Merriam Webster dictionary, is a pharmacological substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease.

Common drugs abused in Nigeria

Also, drugs are natural or synthetic chemicals that can alter or modify the functionality of the body system for therapeutic purposes.

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Categories of Drug Prescription

  • Analgesics otherwise known as pain relievers
  • Sedatives used in treating insomnia
  • Antibiotics used in treatment of various infections
  • Antihypertensive for blood pressure lowering, etc.

Some pharmacological agents are also classifies as hard drugs. These are generally referred to as those drugs with high potential for abuse, severe addiction or death. They might be legal or illegal depending on the aim of taking those drugs. Examples of those drugs are marijuana (cannabis), codeine (known are cough syrup), cocaine, heroin, etc.

Therefore, drug abuse simply refers to the intake of illegal drugs or the inappropriate use of legal drugs. This means that prescribed drugs (by a doctor) or non-prescribed (can be procured over the counter) drugs can be abused. Abuse of prescribed drugs can be through taking an overdose or underdose which they both have the same consequences. In this article, I intend on focusing on some of the Common Drugs Abused in Nigeria and their Adverse Effects.

Common Drugs Abused in Nigeria and their Effects

Below are some list of Common drugs abused by Nigerian youth and their after effects to the health and the country:

Codeine (cough syrups)

This opioid analgesic drug used in the management of diarrhoea and pain. In other opioids, it is vastly abused in Nigeria due to its ability to produce euphoria (high mood) when taken in large quantity. Codeine abusers therefore consume it in large quantity which leads them to adverse effects like independence, sedation, euphoria and tolerance, vomiting, dry mouth, dizziness, headaches, etc. Other opioid analgesics abused are pentazocine (fortwin), tramadol, pethidine, morphine and pethidine. It also causes respiratory depression in large doses.


It has different brands like Boska, M&D and Panadol. It is widely used and frequently abused for the treatment of fever and headache. Although, it is relatively safe to compare with other pain relieving drugs, but still has its effects when taken wrongly. The dreaded adverse effect is liver damage and this may occur after consuming more than the recommended dosage of 4g (8 tablets) in a day. Some effects include rashes, abdominal pain, etc.


This is another vastly abused drug in Nigeria. Its brands include Phensic and Alabukun. Aspirin belongs to the category of drug called Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which are used in treating severe headaches, menstrual pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid and other causes of pain. Other NSAIDs include ibuprofen, feldene, indomethacin, etc. The most adverse effect of Aspirin and other NSAIDs is peptic Ulcer. Aspirins and it’s like should not be taken by children under the age of 16 years as it can damage their liver.

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Antibiotics such as metronidazole (flagyl), ciprofloxacin (ciprotab) and tetracycline are also victims of abuse. Ciprotab is used in treating all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases, skin infection as well as urinary tract infections. However, it has adverse effects when taken wrongly such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, etc. and should be avoided by children. Also, Tetracyclines can cause tooth discoloration when taken by children under 8 years. Flagyl causes loss of appetite, diarrhoea, tremors, slurred speech, etc.


These are drugs used in treating sleep and anxiety disorders e.g. lorazepam, bromazepam and diazepam. Many people with sleeping difficulties have resulted to sleeping pills such they can hardly sleep without them. Notwithstanding, long use of these drugs can cause respiratory depression, confusion, tolerance, visual disturbances, reduced libido (sexual drive) dependence and headache.


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