Gutter Juice: New drug driving Lagos children crazy

Gutter Juice: New drug driving Lagos children crazy
A typical scene of young people on drugs (Source: BBC)

By Odunewu Olusegun

It is a blend of cocaine, codeine, tramadol, Indian hemp and black currant juice. To the initiates, it is called ‘Omi Gota’ (gutter juice). Many youths in Lagos have been trapped in this rapture of hallucinogenic substances but ignored in plain sight by regulatory authorities.

At joints where this dangerous brew is being sold, several teenagers struck in different states of inebriation far into the night. Many were hyperactive, continually raising a ruckus over minor incidents. They laughed hard, fought hard and partied hard.

Their intoxication varied according to their brew. A user who was identified as Capo started soliloquizing and laughing by himself after downing 25cl of the brew.

“That is what Pamilerin does to you,” explained Babatunde, 18, a retailer of the brew. Pamilerin contains a combination of boiled cannabis, alcohol, tramadol, rohypnol and codeine. It loosens your tongue and makes you very giddy. You tend to laugh even at the driest jokes,” he said.

Fears of an imminent Gutter Juice epidemic are rampant in several parts of Lagos. It’s hard not to panic over the prevalence of a drug that leaves devastating marks on its victims.

Especially when it is so easy to make: an addict can cook up Gutter Juice using ingredients bought from the local pharmacy and underworld drug den. Public sale of some of its active ingredients, codeine, tramadol, rohypnol have been banned yet they are available over the counter and the backroom of local pharmacies, at outrageous prices.

Dealers mix blackcurrant juice with a brew including tramadol, codeine, rohypnol, Indian hemp and cocaine. The result—a purple liquid with pungent smell—mimics the effect of injecting high-end cocaine at a fraction of the cost.

Between 2018 and 2019, nearly 15 percent of Nigeria’s adult population (around 14.3 million people) reported a “considerable level” of use of psychotropic drug substances, a rate much higher than the 2016 global average of 5.6 per cent among adults.

The survey, which was led by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and funding from the European Union, showed the highest levels of drug use was recorded among people between the ages 25 to 39 with cannabis being the most widely used drug. Sedatives, heroin, cocaine and the non-medical use of prescription opioids were also noted.

Omi gota

Investigation shows that one litre of standard Gutter Juice costs N3,000 while a 50cl bottle costs N1, 500.

Adolescent users often pool resources and contribute to purchase a bottle, which they share using disposable cups at the several liquor stores across Agege, Agbado, Yaba, Ijora-badia, Ajegunle, Fadeyi, Akala, Ajah, Lekki and other parts of Lagos Island.

According to a brewer of this highly hallucinogenic brew, sometimes, the condiments vary, likewise the preparation. Some users specifically request they add vodka and boil their cannabis in hot water before distilling it into the brew. That often gives it a greater kick. By the time tramadol, codeine, rohypnol, blackcurrant juice and cocaine are added, the brew attains premium tang.

According to an addiction Psychiatrist, Dr. Gbenga Ogunyemi, the typical lifespan of a teenage addict is just two or three years, baring urgent intervention.

“Combining vodka and cocaine in one brew is every shade of dangerous. Alcohol is a depressant and cocaine is a stimulant. Mixing the two in large quantities can overstimulate the heart and nervous system, leading to, in extreme circumstances, heart attacks,” he said.

Reacting to teen addiction to Gutter Juice and other psychotropic substances, the Medical Director (MD) of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital (FNPH), Yaba, Dr. Oluwayemi Ogun said only disturbed people drink Gutter Juice.

“Each of the substances mixed in the juice is highly dangerous. Codeine, cocaine, Indian hemp, Tramadol and Rohypnol are seriously dangerous to health the way they are abused.”

“There is a need for a lot of counselling and education of the youths. They must be made to understand that taking psychotropic substances would have adverse effects on them and possibly wreck their lives. Since the lockdown, the number of people taking drugs has sky-rocketed. Many of them ended up as our patients at the psychiatric hospital. Troubled teenagers especially must understand that the good times are made, not sniffed, drunk or smoked.”