He is 25. He owns a business and is married. He earns N30,000 a month from his job as a butcher. He is also an avid drug user. This is hard enough given the present economic condition in Nigeria but coupled with ‘other expenses’ how does this young man make ends meet?
A typical day for this young man involves 40 wraps of cannabis, 4 bottles of Codeine, 4 tablets of Benzodiazepine and 10 cigarettes. He takes all of this in one day. This costs him N5,000 everyday. Then repeats it the next day, everyday of the week. Needless to say, he is restless, he has visual and audio hallucinations, which in lay man’s terms means he can see and hear things that are not there. To him however, they are as real as the chair I am sitting on. He usually hears these things when not on drugs. It is possible that he takes all these drugs to stop the voices and to stop seeing things. Only he and a psychiatrist can know for sure.
Now this begs the question, with N30, 000 a month and an expenditure of N5,000 every day, how does he eat or take care of his family? By spending N5,000 a day out of his N30,000 income a month, all his money is gone in less than a week. To put this into perspective, he spends N1, 825,000 on drugs a year. He makes N360, 000 a year from his business. Where does the extra N1,465,000 come from? Does he borrow it? Does he steal it? Does he have other businesses? Why does he need this much psychotropic substances? Are these drugs the only thing he lives for? What about his wife? Does she give him money? What does this mean for her? Is she the breadwinner? Are they in this together? Is help available for him? Does he even want the help?
This young man was recently diagnosed with poly-substance induced psychotic disorder - schizophrenia like. What this means that because of his drug use, he hears and sees things and may continue to do so for some time after he stops taking the substance. He generally has a low mood and is very restless. This means that his drug use has gone so far that to his mind, the drugs are an essential part of his daily consumption, much like food is to others. Without the drugs, his brain senses that something is not quite right.
He was recently enrolled into the Community Mental Health Development Programme of Gede Foundation and BasicNeeds UK and attended a Mental Health Camp. He is one of the occupants of what our more regular readers would remember as the ‘jungle.’ Being enrolled into the programme means he has access to a psychiatrist and healing, however long it may be, is in sight for him and his family. It means he has a chance to leave the jungle and be part of society again. Hopefully.
Written By Zunzika T. Okpo