The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) of Nigeria has brought to light a disturbing new trend in drug abuse among the youths of Borno State. These young individuals are turning to a dangerous and unconventional substance – fermented human urine, known as jenkem – as an alternative to traditional hard drugs.
Iliyasu Mani, the NDLEA Commander of Narcotics in Borno State, in a recent press briefing held in Maiduguri, expressed his deep concerns. “The depth of drug abuse has reached a worrying level,” Mani said. “What we are witnessing is not just an abuse of common substances, but a turn towards more hazardous materials like lizard dung, camel urine, and notably, fermented human urine, preserved for over ten days.”
This revelation is part of a broader issue of psychoactive substance abuse in the region. The Commander also listed other commonly abused substances including Cannabis Sativa, skunk, cough syrup with codeine, and Tramadol. “Our battle against drug abuse is increasingly challenging, especially with young teens and women being involved,” he added.
How fermented urine (Jenkem) is processed into an intoxicant
Jenkem, the product of fermented human feces and urine, has been reported to produce hallucinogenic effects when the noxious gas released are inhaled. This practice, according to Detox to Rehab, a community focused on sobriety and overcoming addiction, is a disturbing indicator of the lengths to which individuals might go to escape reality.
The origins of jenkem can be traced back to poverty-stricken areas, with its name originating from Genkem, a brand of glue abused in South Africa.
Health risks and environmental concerns
The use of jenkem presents significant health risks, including bacterial infections, chemical toxicity, and potential transmission of diseases. Health experts warn that inhaling gases from fermented urine can lead to hypoxia, a dangerous condition resulting from insufficient oxygen in the body.
Furthermore, substances like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, produced during fermentation, pose serious health threats. “Prolonged exposure to these compounds can result in respiratory problems, skin burns, and eye irritation,” says a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The environmental impact of these chemicals, particularly in illegal drug production, is also a major concern, highlighting broader societal issues related to drug abuse.
The bigger picture
The rise in jenkem usage is not only a health crisis but also a symbol of desperation in vulnerable communities. This trend underscores the need for comprehensive solutions to address addiction, poverty, and public health. As the NDLEA and other organizations strive to combat this issue, the focus is also on understanding the environmental implications and the real dangers posed by such practices.
“The use of fermented urine is a stark reminder of the depths of addiction and the urgent need for effective interventions,” Commander Mani concluded. As the world grapples with various forms of substance abuse, the situation in Borno State highlights the complexities and challenges in addressing this global issue.