How To Identify Commonly Abused Drugs


As a sequel to my earlier article Read here on Nigeria’s rising drug and substance abuse, I received lots of emails and WhatsApp messages asking me to detail how substances commonly abused can be detected.

Majority of these emails came from concerned parents and teachers some of whom have had to deal with a drug-related crisis. Others work regularly with teenagers, youth and even young adults.

Hence, I have decided to put a detailed compilation of drugs, their classification and street names. It is imperative to state that this list was not originally compiled by me. However, as I was conducting my research I saw this on my office notice board and volar it solved my problems.

NarcoticsOpium, Morphine, Codeine, Heroin Semi-SyntheticOpiate derivatives FENTANYL METHADONEOpium powder, smack, stuff, codeine, table injectionEuphoria, mental clouding, apathy, drowsiness, poor concentration, emotional disinhibition, reduced sexual urge3-6 hrs.
Produces physical and psychological dependence, lower body immunity
StimulantsCocaine, coca leaf, Cigarettes, tobacco, tea, kolanutsCocaine, Pemoline, AmphetamineCoke, crack, speed uppers, show rock, Trembling, emotional disillusion, drowsiness, nose bleeding, sleeplessness, lack of interest, loss of appetite& weight, rapid pulse, euphoria, restlessness and increased alertness trembling1-2 hrs.
Perpetual distortion,
drug dependency, chronic cough, heart attack, brain damage, thought disorientation, violence and premature death
Sedatives/DepressantsBarbiturates, Benzodia, Zephines, Cloral, HydrateSecorbatital Amobarbital Phenobarbital I Diazepam II Chlordiazepoxide III LorazepamValium, Librium, Lexetan, AtivanMemory impairment, slurred speed, drunken behaviour without odour of alcohol 1-6 hrs. Taken orally, injection or rectalDrug dependency, muscle contraction, extreme fear, convulsion, toxic psychosis, premature death
CannabisMarijuana, Hashish, Hashish oil, Tetra Hydro Cannabinol MarijuanaGrass, weed, stone, ganja, keya, pol weewee, igbo THCImpaired concentration, emotional disinhibition, disoriented perception, panic attacks, cough, blood shot eyes, increased appetite2-4 hrs. Smoking and cooking with itDrug dependency, lung disease, brain damages, infertility & possible birth defects, mental retardation in unborn child
Alcohol AlcoholAlcohol & Anxiolytic drugsBeer, shakis, booze, sapele water, ogogoro, whisky, palmy etcStaggering, excitement, emotional disinhibition, slurred speech & bad breathVariable. Taken orallyNeurological damage, temporal and pregnancy psychosis, liver sclerosis, dependency, weight loss, toxicity, damage to brain, liver, lungs &kidney
Inhalants (volatile solvents) Volatile solvents e.g. Kerosene, gasoline, rubber solution, aerosol (perfumes), nail polish removerinhalantGasoline, correction fluid, rubber solution, butyl nitrate, gum, aerosol nail polish removerEuphoria, emotional disinhibition, sneezing, perception panic attacks, cough, bloodshot eyes, thirst, bad breath & nauseavariable. InhalationToxicity, damage to lungs, brain, liver and bone marrow. Blindness, dependency and sudden death
Hallucinogens Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Mescaline LSDLSD, PCP, angel dust, peyote CactusThinking disorder, poor perception of distance, time space and body image, anxiety, illusion, euphoria & hallucinations8-12hrs *taken orally *injectionFlashback, panic reaction, violence, psychosis, bad trips, dependency and sudden death
Designer drugs Amphetamine variant, Dexamphetamine Tramadol, synthetic stimulantschina white, Trams, Demerol, MPPP, STP, MDA, Ecstasy, MMDA, TMAMay cause Heroin-like symptomsVariable *taken orally *injectioncrippling effects, dizziness, euphoria, insomnia, tremors, headaches, irritability and restlessness. Increased blood pressure, tachycardia palpitation and possible death
Anabolic drugs HormonesGestrinone, Mestrione, DanazolSteroidsDevelopment of male characteristics in females, excessive body build Variable *taken orally *injectionSterility, cancer, stunted growth in young people


Having read through the table above, note there is a correlation between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS infection. As a result of the ‘highnesses’ of these drugs, most of the addicts involve in sexual orgies which are often unprotected leading to exposure and possible infection of HIV.

You may ask what the list can do for you especially if you have not had a direct confrontation with a drug addict. This will help you detect behavioural changes in your wards. In addition, if you hear any of the street names (which were not exhaustive) in their conversation, you will be able to know what you are dealing with.

Like I always say, don’t live in denial. Drug and substance abuse is not just carried out by touts anymore but by highly placed intellectuals and professionals. By very intelligent students in secondary schools and the universities who desire to read longer hours and excel.

As noble as their excuse maybe, drug dependency is a misnomer, a set up for organ failure and premature death if not dealt with rapidly.

Chizzy Odilinye

Chizzy Odilinye is a chemical engineer who is driven to challenge status quo and add value everywhere she goes. Her pleasures are photography, chess and cooking.

9 thoughts on “How To Identify Commonly Abused Drugs

  1. You stated a fact clearly on your write-up, there is a very strong connection between drugs abuse and HIV, we often forget to talk about the inter-relatedness of this social vice and key sexual health and rights issues. Kudos

  2. Thank you very much for this one.This issue of drugs and addiction is given very little attention in many parts of Africa.The earlier we start focusing more on this the better future we would have.we are actively loosing a young and vibrant generation to this vice.Thanks for putting this in the spotlight

  3. I think 2 things are key to combating the problem:
    Firstly, we need to regulate the chain of distribution of the product from the point of production to the point of consumption. This needs the NAFDAC/NDLEA/Immigration/Customs and the hospitals because these drugs are genuinely used for medical conditions too, they are not entirely harmful.
    Secondly, you need rehab for those already affected: this will include the alcohol and substance misuse clinic, psychologists, social services, HIV/hepatitis testing.

  4. One of my school mates now roams the streets in madness due to drugs. Can you imagine a parent sends a child to boarding school for 5 years, showers all the money and love in hope for a better future and at the end of the day this child ends up mad.Each time i come across him, i weep! What a waste!! I can only imagine what his parents are going through.

  5. Claiming to be ignorant about drug abuse won’t help us that’s why this sensitization is a good idea. All hands should be on deck to curb this rising menace. Thumbs up!

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