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Linking misuse of blood tonic to drug abuse


Anthony Bola Oyawole

• Parents Must Become More Involved In Their Wards — Oyawole
The immediate past Lagos State chairman, Pharmacists Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Anthony Bola Oyawole tried to link the age-long blood tonic to possibilities of addiction. GERALDINE AKUTU reports
Youths are reported to now take to blood tonic to get high. Can you enlighten on this?
Orheptal blood tonic has been in existence for quite a while, and it has served the family well, as it contains Ferric Ammonium Citrate, an heamatinic used for treating iron deficiency, vitamins B1, B2, B12, and liver extract, among others, to combat vitamin deficiencies. 

These ingredients are carried in an alcoholic base of about 13 percent strength to deliver their therapeutic actions; hence Orheptal blood tonic is an elixir. I wonder why it can be abused, as it contains no psychoactive or mind-bending substances, and the alcoholic strength is far below what is available in the spirits/hot drinks that are readily available in our environment.

Since its strength is far below what is available in spirits and hot drinks, why are these young ones taking it to get high?
I want to guess that it’s one of the youthful exuberances of trying new things. Orheptal is a family tonic that has been existence in Nigeria for close to four decades.


What are the implications of taking Orheptal blood tonic in excess or misusing the drug?
Symptoms of over dosage include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal bleeding and restlessness, among others. Treatment is supportive and symptomatic.

What is PSN doing to checkmate this and how far has the body gone to sensitise public on the abuse and misuse of drugs? 
PSN has mobilised all pharmacists across the nation to engage in massive awareness campaign about drug abuse, misuse, as well as substance abuse generally. These campaigns have been taken to the community level by the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria through organising road shows, and engaging the wives of governors in the walk against drug abuse in their respective states, together with market campaigns.

There is also the Association of Lady Pharmacists, who regularly embarks on advocacy visits/schools moral campaigns all over the federation. The Young Pharmacist Group of PSN is partnering with NAFDAC in sensitising youths across the length and breath of Nigeria to tame these vices. The Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria is involved in the campaign of rational use of drugs in their area of practice. The Academic and Industrial Pharmacists are unrelenting in ensuring that drug abuse and misuse are curtailed.

What advice would you give parents whose youths abuse drugs?
The youths are the future of tomorrow. In this sense, all hands must be on deck to ensure that future is not jeopardised. Consequently, parents must become more involved in the affairs of their wards. We must be their friends right from home, so that we will know what they are doing all the time. We need to gain their trust, so that they can confide in us, instead of going to find solace in engaging in dangerous social vices. The youths should also know that drug/substance abuses would only truncate their dreams and destroy their future. They should not embark on such journey, if they want to live a fulfilled life.


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