Drugs like tramadol, oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine have so far replaced Indian hemp. Many vulnerable Nigerian youths who engage in its abuse are facing life threatening situation. Experts believe this is furthering the wave of crime in the country today. Crime Guard spoke to Solomon Uga, one of the victims of tramadol addiction in Lagos, a 23-year-old man from Benue state who is now living in pains over his abuse of tramadol, he shares his travails.
How it started
I came from a family of six and we are all boys. My father is a serving officer with the Nigerian Army while my mother is a farmer. I started my JSS 1 at Saint John Bosco Secondary School Doma, Nasarawa state. From there I moved to Wantor Model Collage, Adikpo, Benue state where I did my JSS 2.
After that, I went to Mogadishu Barracks, formerly Abacha barracks, to meet my father where he was serving. When I got there, I started my JSS3. It was there that everything about me changed. I was 17 years old when I started my JSS 3. When I started attending classes, I met some bad friends and what attracted me to them was that I was good in mathematics.
Our mathematics teacher was a very difficult person. If she gives us assignment and you fail to do it, you face her wrath. Even though I was a new student, I was the only one that usually get the highest marks for about two to three times. This was the reason why those boys started coming closer to me. After school, they would gather around me insisting that, I must teach them mathematics.
Eventually some of them got to know my house because we were all living in the same barracks. These friends were very dangerous and devilish people. But that time I did not know what was happening. They kept on coming to my house and I keep on doing assignment for them.
Introduced to tramadol
tablets One day, one of them approached me saying, “Guy, why are you wasting your time doing all these? I am going to introduce you to something that will make you read harder, something that would make you not to sleep again.” So I asked him what that was. It was then that they introduced me to tramadol tablets. By then, tramadol tablet was in 50 and 100 milligram. So, I started with 50 milligram, taking one tablet per day. Everything they said started working out for me and gradually I started increasing the number of tablets. Whenever I take it, I could not sleep, I could not feel hungry. I would work all night long without blinking my eyes and I would not get tired. Each time I take tramadol, I do not think I have problem at all.
There is nothing you do to me that would make me angry. When I discovered its positive impact on my life, I now graduated to 100 milligram daily.
Why I started stealing
It got to a time where I could not cope in Abuja with my father when he tried his best to rehabilitate me without success. So, I had to go back to my village in Abaji, Katsina Ala local government, Benue state to continue with my education. When I got there, the way and manner I got money to buy this drug in Abuja ceased.
In Abuja, my friends do buy for me because their parents were very rich people. But while there in the village, I could not buy this drug again so, I had to steal from my mother and grandparents to enable me buy this drug. That was where my stealing habit started. Initially, while I was growing up I was a kind of person that hardly picks anybody’s thing without his or her permission.
That was one of the good things about me that my parents loved so much. When I started stealing, nobody ever suspects me until when I was caught so, I had to confess. I find it difficult to lie about something I did. If I do not say it that time, I will definitely find time to tell the person.
Adventure with ‘sugar mummies’
While I was in Abuja, I did not have any cause to steal anything from anybody because apart from my friends’ rich background, they also introduced me to Abuja society women called, Sugar Mummies. Then, I was 18 years and that was where I got a lot of money I was using to buy tramadol. The sugar mummies gave us everything we needed including sex, money and drinks.
I didn’t have time for any young girl of my age at that time. Even when I left Abuja and started dating young girls, I never loved them just because those sugar mummies were given me virtually everything I needed in a woman. They gave me the privilege to sex them to my satisfaction, they made sure I do not lack money; they took me to places that ordinary I would not have been able to visit. Some of them were married women. But the one that was madly involved with me was divorced. My friend, Jossycarter’s brother introduced him to sugar mummies and he in turn introduced us to the game.
His sugar mummy asked him to look for young boys of his age for her friends, that, they are also interested in them. So, he came back to tell us, that’s how we met them. When we met them each of them made her choice and we all departed to our various hotels to have fun.
We were students and at that time, we were not privileged to sleep outside, they understood our situation very well. Whenever we are going to school, we do take some clothes along inside our school bags. Then, during break time, we go out and changed to mufti, then go to meet them. We do come back exactly the time school closes so that we would be in the barracks at exactly 4:00pm. Since I left Abuja, I don’t have sugar mummies again.
I will die without tramadol for one day It came to a point when I started taking 200 to 220 milligram every day because 100 milligram was becoming ineffective on me. There was a time I went on research on this tramadol tablets and found out that, it was causing a lot more damage to my health and the damage was very serious. I learnt that there will come a time where I would suffer kidney damage and heart problem and I know that these diseases are very expensive to treat. Then I decided to stop taking it completely but something dramatic happened.
For three days that I did not take it, I fell sick and was admitted in the hospital for close to one month. Funny enough, nobody knew what the cause was and to my greatest surprise, the very day I took it, I left the hospital. Whenever I try to stop taking tramadol I get sick when I start taking it, I get well.
I was advised that no drug addict stops taking drug at once and I keyed into that advice. At that time, I went back worse than before. I was taking 200 milligram complete pack, that’s about 10 tablets a day. I would take four in the morning, three in the afternoon and two in the evening. I knew that, this drug was killing me slowly but I could not just help myself. I am deeply addicted to it now. But I am seriously praying to God to help me stop taking it. I made a resolution to stop some time ago and I started reducing it from 10 tablets a day to seven, to five times. But right now I take four tablets of 200 milligram per day. Tramadol caused serious damages to my family life Because of my stealing habit, I could not cope with my mother and grandparents in the village so they pushed me down to Lagos to live with my aunty and uncle. Even here in Lagos, this same tramadol is giving me problem with my aunty and uncle.
I go about stealing even petty things like food stuff from the store to sell and raise money to buy tramadol. Every day, I am being announced as a thief. This drug has caused a lot of damage to my life. My aunty enrolled me for apprenticeship at Dopemu Aluminum Market to learn aluminium fabrication but this same drug puts me into problem with my boss. Now, the same tramadol tablet has sent me out of Lagos.
My uncle and aunty have promised to wash their hands off me. I am now an outcast just because I refused to stop taking tramadol. But they never believed I have being struggling to stop. They never believe I could ever change and they will never believe until I changed. My childhood dream was to become a chartered account but all hope is gone now.
Tramadol has destroyed my education, I wrote the West African Examination Council, WAEC, and got just two credits pass, in spite of the fact that I used to be the best student in my class. My teachers could not believe that was my result till date. Attempted suicide It got to a point when I attempted suicide because I could not bear the agony I’ m going through.
I asked myself, why is it that my parents are complaining about me, my good friends and just everybody complaining? Yet I cannot change! I said to myself, there is no need to live because to me, living is pain, living is hopelessness. I wanted to commit suicide and forget everything; let everyone forget about me too. The hell I am passing through is too much for me to bear.
My addiction, my stealing, hardship and pains, I cannot bear this any longer. So I bought a poison concealed in a sachet, brought it back home kept it in my room. That night, when I woke up late in the night to take it I could not find it. I searched everywhere that night but could not see it. The following morning I found some pieces under my bed and some dead rats in the room. I then discovered it was rats that came to take it.
When my grandmother heard of it, she cried bitterly and begged me not to kill myself. That she does not want to bury me, that I should be the one to give her a befitting burial. That is why any time the thought of suicide crosses my mind, I quickly remember her plea.
A Nigerian pharmacist based in Agege area of Lagos, Francis Edozie in a chart with Saturday Vanguard said he would not sell tramadol to anybody without a doctor’s prescription. He said: “Some would tell you they are taking it to enhance their sexual performance without knowing that, they are gradually killing their body system.
Some youth who engage in hard labour also use it.” He narrated that: “There was a report from Lagos State University last year that, a medical student of the school who got involved with bad friends who take tramadol got himself destroyed by tramadol abuse. Within a span of eight months, he fell sick and was admitted in the school hospital. Today, he is brain damaged and his condition keeps worsening. He could not study anymore.”
Edozie added that: “It is not only tramadol, there are so many like that which I would not like to mention and they are very harmful to the body cells if abused. Most of them get paralyzed when they get to 40 years of age and would not be able to hold anything firmly.
When you see tramadol addicts, just observe them, they cannot stay for more than four hours without taking it, all their body will be shivering until they take it, they cannot get themselves back. “Many are taking it to do evil like stealing, street fighting and all that. There is need for government to carry out enlightenment campaign about the consequence of tramadol abuse among the youth which is becoming so rampant today.” he advised.
*This is so sad!