Oluwatosin Fatungase, a University of Lagos trained Pharmacist and Teen Behavioral Coach. In 2014, she was awarded the First Youth Ambassador of Evans Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Evans Medical Plc (formerly CiplaEvans Nig. Ltd).
Oluwatosin who has spoken and trained over 8,000 teenagers and youths. In this interview with Eric Olusesan, spoke on how to curb the menace of drug Abuse in Nigeria.
Tell us about your background?
My name is Oluwatosin Fatungase. I am a pharmacist and teen behavioural coach. I coach and inspire teens to discover themselves and make right choices.
Why are you campaigning against drug Abuse?
When I work at community pharmacies, I noticed that the demand for Codeine and Tramadol was high. Most patients don’t come with their prescriptions. Some lie in order for you to sell it without prescription. They even gave Tramadol a code name. They will say, I want to buy TM, Refnol. I didn’t know that TM was Tramadol and Refnol, Rohypnol. I started my own research, asking teens and youths why they take these drugs. The answers I got were the same, it makes them high, you can have sex for hours and do strenuous jobs for long hours. I started writing my research on my Facebook page and blog. I got so many responses from people. Different people were sending me messages of their own or other people’s experiences about these drugs. Some told me about how they almost died, while others told me they have lost someone due to drug overdose. I now started looking at avenues to reach out to teens, youths about the negative consequences of drug abuse.
What can be done to curb this menace?
We all have a part to play. Government needs to have and implement strict regulations from the importation of these drugs down to the final consumer.
Parents, Guardians, Teachers, Religious Organizations: They have to be vigilant. If they notice any unusual behavior from their teen, don’t assume. Ask questions, investigate, and then if necessary, send the teen to see a doctor immediately. Individuals, NGOs, Media: Just like what I am doing through my Facebook page, blog and @NoToDrugAbuse.
Speak out about the negative consequences of drug abuse. Recently, I got messages from young people telling me that they didn’t know that abusing these drugs are life threatening. Now they are going through rehabilitation. We must keep informing the public about drug abuse and why it must stop. They are battling drug abuse in America; we must also do same here in Nigeria.
Why is drug abuse common among our teenagers this days?
Drug abuse is common these days because of wanting to explore, get high, peer pressure and for some people it was unintentional (they got mixed up with the wrong crowd). Also, some people have challenges, even depressed and they just want to forget their sorrows.
Kindly mention some of these abused drugs and the reasons why they are abused?
Drugs and substances now commonly abused in Nigeria are:
– Cough expectorant in coke, sprite, or Lacasera
– Gutter Water.
These drugs are addictive.
These drugs are taken in order to get high (euphoric), have sex for hours, etc. Any one abusing, experiencing withdrawal symptoms and addicted to these drugs should see the doctors immediately. The overdose of these drugs can result to: trouble breathing, slow or irregular heartbeat, vomiting, hallucinations, memory loss, seizures, coma and death.
How can a drug abuser be helped to get rid of his/her addiction?
Any one abusing, experiencing withdrawal symptoms and addicted to these drugs should see the doctors immediately. The overdose of these drugs can result to: trouble breathing, slow or irregular heartbeat, vomiting, hallucinations, memory loss, seizures, coma and death.
Finally, your advice to the youths?
To the youths, Your Life Is Important. Don’t abuse drugs. To schools and religious organisations: A seminar about drug abuse and its negative consequences should be done every quarter. To parents, be vigilant.