In Nigeria, the agency tasked with combating the use and sale of hard drugs is the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). It recently intercepted loads of “Colos”, a psychotropic drug rapidly gaining popularity among young people. 

The United Nations marks today, June 26, as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The NDLEA is also on a national campaign to stop drug abuse, especially as it has become increasingly common to see videos of Nigerians, specifically young people, exhibiting erratic behaviour and losing control of their actions due to the influence of the drug known as Colorado.

Colorado has swept across the country with a street lingo known as Colos. We’ve explored a worrying trend with cocaine trafficking. In this article, we’ll look at Colos and what science says about it.

What is Colos?

Colos is a drug that comes from a synthetic mixture. It contains heavy metals laced with chemicals, with weed as a mixture. Colos is unsafe for human consumption.  

Colos has other names like “Black Mamba”, “Potpourri”, “Arizona”, “Lamba” (when mixed with “Loud”), and “Scooby Snax”.

What are the health hazards of using Colos?

Colos is ingested to mimic the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana, which gives off the feeling of being high. However, it does more than that; it often sends users into a frenzy. The chemicals used in making Colos are banned substances smuggled into Nigeria. 

Olabintan Odunola, a medical doctor and Team Lead at The Health City shared her insights on the drug:

“Using drugs, including the widely acclaimed Colorado, has been made to look cool, and therefore many young people are attracted to using them, consequences be damned. Health risks involved in using synthetic cannabinoids like Colorado include feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, and tiredness; feeling excited, agitated, and aggressive mood swings; anxiety and paranoia; suicidal thoughts; memory problems and amnesia; nausea and vomiting; hot flushes; increased heart rate and blood pressure, which may cause chest pains, damage your heart, and even cause a heart attack; excessive sweating fingers, toes, or muscles; feeling numb and tingly tremors; seizures; and even death. 

Today, on International Day of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the onus is on us to continue educating young people that drug abuse always comes with a price and is not worth the hype.”

On social media, there are several videos of Nigerian youths reacting violently after using the drug. In 2022, a special report by Punch revealed a drug user going berserk by uncontrollably slamming his head against a plank. In 2020, Guardian reported that a teenager died after smoking the drug. 

The potency of the drug is well-known and has entered street slang. The phrase “On Colos” means a person acting under the influence of drugs.

What else should you know?

Nigerian laws frown upon illicit drug use. Beyond that, however, it’s clear that Colos contains chemicals that can have long-term damaging effects. The safest recourse is to avoid it and other related banned substances entirely.  

This year’s World Drug Day theme is “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.” If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse, the NDLEA has provided an extensive list of NGOs focused on rehabilitation that you can contact. Avail yourself of this opportunity today, and let’s bring the Colos pandemic to a halt.

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