Stop now before you get hooked

Stop now before you get hooked

THE abuse of over-the-counter (OTC) opioids, including codeine, is now a growing problem in the world. Because Lesotho doesn’t have a drug regulatory authority, the risk of its people getting easy access to opioids, abusing them and getting addicted it very high.
Codeine is a prescription pain medication used to treat mild to moderate pain. It comes in tablet form and as the main ingredient in some cough suppressants mixtures.

Codeine is an opiate (sometimes called a narcotic). Other opiates include oxycodone, heroin and morphine. Codeine use often starts out innocently with a prescription for a codeine-based cough syrup or pain killer.
Because codeine is less regulated than some opiates considered more dangerous such as morphine, getting and abusing it is relatively easy. Though less potent, codeine provides effects similar to morphine.

The effects of codeine include euphoria, apathy, drowsiness and relaxation. There is a high risk of its users developing a tolerance and eventually dependence on it.
Although many people begin using codeine to relieve a legitimate condition, it is frequently abused as tolerance develops. Many codeine users begin to turn to the drug to cope with all of their physical pain and eventually their emotional pain as well.

At high doses, codeine use can lead to respiratory failure, coma, and even death. This risk is especially high when codeine is combined with other central nervous system depressants such as Alcohol and other medicines.
It is highly possible that you might be addicted if you continue using codeine. Codeine can lull its users into a false sense of security because many people do not consider it to be as powerful or addictive as its opiate family members.

Codeine is considered a gateway drug to other opiates abuse, including morphine and even heroin. Many people don’t stop at codeine. They try to reach a better high by mixing it with other substances, including alcohol.
One common practice locally is to mix codeine cough syrup with soft drinks such as Sprite, for consumption in high doses. This mixture is the dangerous recreational form of the drug.
There is a need for increasing the awareness of the misuse of OTC codeine by patients.

Restricting the supply of OTC codeine medications, inspection of retail pharmacies, and training of counter staff on knowledge of codeine abuse and advising proper use of codeine to the consumer are some of the measures described in countering OTC codeine abuse. There is great need for medicines regulation in Lesotho.

Pharmacists are the sole trained custodians of Medicines so until such a time dispensing of medications is left exclusively in their hands, OTC substance abuse, especially medications with addictive potential like opioids, will remain a major threat in the country.
It is high time Lesotho faces up to this menace before it grows to epidemic proportions. A good start should be the creation of drug regulatory authority to protect the public.

Retšelisitsoe Nkhahle

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