It started in a small section of the society but like all bad habits with an addictive quality, it has swept across the country threatening the foundation of our existence, the youth.
Our children, through peer pressure, are vulnerable to this menace which must be stopped now before such a stoppage become almost impossible.
Much as the task of pressing the stop button lies with relevant regulatory bodies in the country, parents and especially, faith-based entities such as churches and mosques must come in strongly on the scourge.
A few days ago, about a dozen or so kids, victims of tramadol abuse, were featured on one of the television channels narrating their marriage with the destructive pharmaceutical product. Their ignorance about what they had gotten into was not in doubt.
It was interesting to note that while their ages ranged between twelve and seventeen, they had all dropped out of school with some saying they are ready to quit when they get something doing in the form of employment.
That we sat down as a nation until the product gained a foothold, a strong one at that, before we started whinning is a bad testimonial about us all. Why did we wait for so long until now when the signs are already portentous?
It was also instructive that their parents had given up on them. The implication here is that they have, unless something is done and quickly, become a burden for all members of society to shoulder, if we like, a national liability. When they are enticed to join armed robbery gangs so that they can lay hands on money to buy the product and satisfy the burning desire, it is society which would suffer in the end.
We have also learnt about how some of them now experiment with other chemicals with tramadol serving as the base substance. Mixing tramadol with an energy drink is now a common practice among the addicted youth. In cases where getting tramadol turns difficult, cough mixtures – we have been told – is used to produce the level of ‘high’ required by the addicts.
What used to arouse laughter in us when the story of tramadol first broke out is no longer funny. We must arrest it before it consumes our youth beyond redemption.
We have observed some moves of late by the Food and Drugs Authority in collaboration with the police to arrest the situation but such occasional swoops, though important, are not enough to root out the scourge.
The scourge can be fought from two fronts; the policing angle and the mind. The latter could prove effective when it is done methodically.
The youth should be reached out through appeals and symposia in schools and in the streets, and for those already hooked, they must be taken through sessions of intense counseling.