Every drug is a potential poison’

The word “poison” may evoke thoughts of murder and mayhem, but for centuries, healers and scientists have harnessed the power of natural poisons, toxins, and venoms, as medicine.

Unfortunately, the irrational use of drugs among Nigerians leaves much to be desired. Today, self medication is the order of the day and abuse of prescription drugs is commonplace. Individuals have become self doctors, nurses and pharmacists but experts say taking drugs without proper prescription could be harmful to health as all medicines are potential poisons.
Drugs taken without prescription is like taking poison.This means that any medicine that has an effect also has side effect and the poison is in the dose.
The Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention, CDC, defines medicines as compositions used to treat infectious diseases, manage symptoms of chronic diseases, and to help relieve pain and suffering.
Medicines are generally safe when used as prescribed or as their labeling describes. There are, however, risks in taking any medicine.
Each year, adverse drug events—injury resulting from the use of medication—result in over hundreds of thousands of visits to hospital emergency departments. But most adverse drug events are preventable.Patients and caregivers can help reduce the risk of harm from medicines by learning about medication safety.
A former Chairman, Lagos State Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria, ACPN, Pharm. Aminu Yinka Abdusalam, says the abuse of drugs such as antibiotics, creates problems for the user and jeopardises the future use of such antibiotics..
“When drugs are abused or misused, the end does not augur well. When antibiotics are misused, organisms causing the problem develop resistance and subsequently reduces effectiveness of the drugs.
“Every medicine is a potential poison if not administered properly. Due to wrong administration of medicines, many Nigerians are coming down with life threatening illnesses including kidney problems and heart related diseases.”she said.
Abdusalam noted that abuse of preparations such as codeine in large quantities, could trigger addiction. He said because medicines containing codeine are commonly available, people can easily get the effect of codeine they want, a development that does not augur well for public health.
He said drug abusers are at risk of contracting HIV while lamenting that misuse of drugs does not portend a good future for treatment of some illness. For instance, malaria medicines that were once effective have become ineffective.
Overdose: “Many people die from painkiller overdose. In fact, more people overdose from painkillers every year than from heroin and cocaine combined.
Some categories of medicine must be prescribed by medical personnel and some of these medicines are addictive because you will develop compulsive tendency to continuously use the medicine.
When you use these medicines you may be temporarily high. Drug addiction contributes to crimes When there are so many people abusing these medicines then we are not safe in our communities and that is what we are seeing today.
He explained that issue of self medication should be closely examined to ensure the public is better informed, urging the community pharmacists to intensify public education about the merits and demerits of drug use.
Ă‹nforcement: In his argument, Abdusalam called for enforcement of existing laws guiding safe use of medicines in the country and protect the safety and welfare of at-risk groups including pregnant women, children and the elderly.
“Government should play its part to ensure regulations are enforced. The laws are there comprehensively without ambiguity. We only need political will to put these things in check.
“The drug distribution chain is chaotic because medicines are being sold where they should not be sold, and by people who are not trained to sell medicines” she stated..

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