A menace has slammed itself into the atmosphere of Nigeria. There is a monstrous plague in our civic space right now.
In early September, I saw a picture of a substance on social media, the substance looked more like bits of ice to me, so I didn’t look more into it until recently, a video showing youths of a particular section of the country being punished for consuming the substance amplified.
What is this substance?
This substance is referred to as Mkpuru mmiri, which is of the Igbo language connotation. In actuality this substance is called Crystal Methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that affects the central nervous system, commonly called Crystal meth. Sources reveal that there is no legal use for this drug. It comes in clear crystal pieces or shiny blue white rocks. It is called “ice” as well, thus the name ‘Mkpuru mmiri’.
It is a man-made stimulant that has been around for years now. During World War II, soldiers were given Crystal meth to keep them awake so as to be confident enough to fight.
The effects of this substance are not exact, as different users have distinct episodes in relation to the substance.
One of the users elucidated that the drug gives a lot of energy to carry out activities he couldn’t carry out in absence of the drug, he said he could walk from a very long distance without feeling exhausted, to be precise, a walk of about 6 kilometers. It is now clear that users feel confident and energetic.
Another user expressed that this drug provokes a lot of pleasure and he wouldn’t want to feel anything without being under the influence of this drug. Plainly this is an addictive drug, as users get hooked right from the start.
According to a research on drugfreeworld.org, Crystal meth burns up the body’s resources, creating a devastating dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug. Consequently, it is one of the hardest drug addictions to treat and many die in its grip.
This is a terrifying cognizance and the substance needs to be investigated by relevant authorities such as the NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) and the NAFDAC (National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control).
Albeit the main source of the substance is yet to be confirmed, some have stipulated that crystal meth comes from the northern part of the country, whereas some say it is being imported into the country.
Irrespective of the source of the substance, there is an urgent necessity to stop the use of this drug, as the future of the country depends on it.
The majority of cases of the substance use have come from the southeastern part of the country.
Gladly, many prominent individuals of Igbo extraction, politicians, celebrities, and community heads, have expressed worries over the effects of this substance and are using their positions to influence this devastation awaiting a generation of Nigerians.
Are there solutions to this problem ?
Yes there are solutions to many problems on earth, only time is of the essence.
The punishment allotted to the users and addicts are somewhat unnecessary and vile. There are more civil ways to handle specific situations, addiction isn’t an issue that goes away by the use of force, rather it is an issue of mental health, and should be treated as such.
Unfortunately, in Nigeria we don’t have the basic mental health facilities to handle matters like these.
Studies by the American addiction center have shown that using crystal meth can result in dependence and addiction, and can be harmful to the body and mind over time. It creates changes in the brain that can endure for long periods of time and may be only partially reversible.
With that being explained, can vile punishments reverse long term effects? We should be very considerate and deductive in assessing this menace before we jump into the ship of conclusions.
Considering that we are truly concerned about our youths, it’s understandable to panic and want to jump to any kind of help right away but we must also establish that, dealing with substance use isn’t straightforward, because you want to offer help, but you are not even sure on how to.
On that account, the government and its institutions should do a research on the symptoms of the substance use so as to identify the addicts and users, get them detained while planning for a recovery process for them before sentencing.
We have seen the lawmaker representing Ideato North in the Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Innocent Egwim, voice his anxiety that if nothing is done to checkmate this unfortunate direction and get the youths of the state to say no to the consumption of ‘Mkpuru mmiri’ and other such drugs, the future of the state would be precarious.
The lawmaker opined that the consumption of Mkpuru mmiri has rendered some of “our youths useless by making them mad and sending some to their early graves as its consumption is often associated with health hazards.
Crystal meth use can also lead to mood swings and behavioral changes, therefore, the first help should come from the family or home of any suspected user. After noticing some symptoms associated with its use, let them know you want to support them through the cause of these symptoms by first terminating their use of the substance and this should be done sensitively.
Secondly, communication is crucial, having a conversation with the addicts would make a big difference on the outcome. We can try to find an environment suitable for a delicate discourse, telling them how much we care about them and pointing out our observations with a stance on support and not condemnation.
Basically, listening to them is very vital, they might even be open minded enough to explain why they started using it in the first place, we all know there’s usually a motive behind drug use and abuse. This would definitely give us more insight into how we can best help them.
Additionally, there is nothing as thoughtful as encouragement, reminding the youths of their strengths, achievements and the people who care about them can help them feel more motivated to keep working towards recovery.
The best solution to a mental health problem is compassionate support and collective responsibility.
This is a time to join forces to fight this menace as swiftly as possible, no matter the differences, we all have a common enemy, which is mkpuru mmiri (Crystal meth) and together with passion, we would win this challenge.