Reasons Why Nigerians Consume More Cough Syrups Than You Think

Someone may wonder why Nigerians consume more cough syrups other than the sole reason for treatment of cough for which the drug is meant for.

If we allow common sense to reign, it seems like cough syrup in Nigeria is creating a generation of addicts.

Cough syrups are on the high demand in Nigeria and the medicines are becoming a street drugs especially in some part of Nigeria where consumption of alcoholic drinks are somehow restricted.

Also, it’s no longer news that few years ago in Lagos state, a BBC undercover journalist exposed the high rate of Codeine (a cough syrup) consumption among youth in Nigeria.

Ever since then, the government has placed a ban on the production and sales of codeine in the country. But will placing a ban on codeine in the country marks an end to cough syrup consumption in the country?

Are there no alternatives? Does banning codeine cough syrup help mitigate other cough syrup abuse in Nigeria? Are there reasons why young Nigerians consume more cough syrups?

Without wasting much time, we need to know what causes cough, cough, cough syrup means and the reasons behind its high consumption in Nigeria.ALSO READ:Are You Being Disturbed By Cough? Check Out These Essential Oils For Quick Relief

What Causes A Cough?


A cough can be caused by several conditions, both temporary and permanent.

  • Clearing The Throat

Coughing is a standard way of clearing your throat. When your airways become clogged with mucus or foreign particles such as smoke or dust, a cough is a reflex reaction that attempts to clear the particles and make breathing easier.

Usually, this type of coughing is relatively infrequent, but coughing will increase with exposure to irritants such as smoke.

  • Viruses And Bacteria

The most common cause of a cough is a respiratory tract infection, such as a cold or flu.

Respiratory tract infections are usually caused by a virus and may last from a few days to a week.

Infections caused by the flu may take a little longer to clear up and can sometimes require antibiotics.

  • Smoking

Smoking is a common cause of coughing. A cough caused by smoking is almost always a chronic cough with a distinctive sound. It’s often known as a smoker’s cough.

  • Asthma

A common cause of coughing in young children is asthma. Typically, asthmatic coughing involves wheezing, making it easy to identify.

Asthma exacerbations should receive treatment using an inhaler. It’s possible for children to grow out of asthma as they get older.

  • Medicines

Some medications will cause coughing, although this is generally a rare side effect. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions, can cause coughing.

What Is A Cough?

A cough is an automatic response to irritation of the airways in the lungs. Having a cough is the main symptom of an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI).

What Are Cough Syrups?

Do you need something for a nagging cough? Some over-the-counter treatments such as cough syrups may give you relief. As the name appears to be, cough syrups are drugs used to treat cough or dry cough.

Cough medicines aim either to suppress a dry cough, or to help you to cough up the extra phlegm or mucus of a chesty cough when you have a URTI.

Reasons Why Nigerians Consume More Cough Syrups

There are some indirect reasons as to why Nigerians consume more cough syrup than using it for just treatment. However, below are some of them;

To Treat Cough


A lady suffering from cold_and_cough
Cold and cough

Despite the fact that there may be other reasons why Nigerians consume more of cough syrups, they also use it to treat cough. Actually, cough medicines are commonly bought to treat coughs that occur when you have an upper respiratory tract infection.

This demands result from people suffering from asthma, being infected by bacteria & viruses, dusts and choking odour being inhaled.

For Tranquility Or To Relax

Many young Nigerians consume cough syrups because they believe it makes them to relax after tolling for the whole day. There is no doubt that a lot of Nigerians are always on the street “hustling” for their daily bread.

Therefore, desire to be cool are just one of the reasons Nigerians are falling for this drugs. Musicians also sing about the “high” it gives you.

Teenagers mix it with soft drinks, or swig it straight from the bottle at “syrup parties”.

As A Substitute To Alcohol Or To Get High

In some part of the country where alcohol sales where restricted, young people now search for close substitute that is available to them and free to consume at any time.

They believe when taken in excess, can have an impact on their mind and body thereby making them “high” as if it were an alcohol. It becomes one of the easiest ways to reach cloud-9 (a feeling of extreme happiness).

To Improve Sleep

Apart from getting them high or to relax, some also believe it to improve their sleeping cycle. Once taking in excess in the night before sleeping, what happen next is “story for the gods.”

How Do Cough Medicines Work?

Cough medicines are thought to work in different ways, depending on what the active ingredient is:

  • Antitussives are said to work by reducing the cough reflex.
  • Expectorants try to help loosen secretions, so you cough up the excessive mucus.
  • Antihistamines reduce histamine release. This reduces congestion and decreases the amount of secretions made by the lungs.
  • Decongestants cause the blood vessels in the lungs and nose to narrow (constrict), and this reduces congestion.

Side Effects Of Consuming Excess

Addiction of cough syrup
Addiction of cough syrup

In addition to kidney damage and seizures, serious abuse of cough syrups can trigger mental psychosis – delusions, drowsiness, hallucinations, and even schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally.

However, many of the syrup addicts in the rehab centre(s) can become so violent that staff chain them to the floor.




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