Boiling Baby pampers and drinking the liquid is the latest innovation by Sierra Leonean youths, chasing the new way to get “High.” Since the fifties and sixties youths in every generation have turned to illegal substances to get intoxicated at a higher level. It was and still is not enough to get simply drunk on alcohol. There has to be something more that would take them to a higher level of “bliss.” Marijuana (locally called Diamba) has survived the journey through the ages in getting the young to that “high” level of bliss. But again it is enough. Youths have therefore become very inventive and innovative in finding ways of either discovering or creating the new high. Youths have resorted to the heavy pain killer “Tramadol” the ‘Codeine syrup,’ some pain relief tablets mixed with a pint of coke, tramadol ground up and mixed with sugar to create “butter scotch;” mixing several substances like tramadol, the liquid from boiled marijuana, different types of alcohol, bitter kola etc. all into one portion called “punch” because of the kick its gives after being consumed; and this is served at different functions including weddings, christenings and parties. With the increase in prices of tramadol, marijuana, Kush plant, codeine syrup and relief tablets, the youths have become even more innovative at creating the new ‘High’ at low cost. In the search to find the innovator of this new ‘high’ we came across Sammy (not his real name) a regular drug user at a slum who claims to have used all the known drugs. He explained that sitting around smoking marijuana and observing the things happening around them. Sammy says they observed that the dogs in the vicinity were always ravaging the refuse dumps in the slum, and noticed them taking away used baby pampers. On close scrutiny they observed that after feeding on the substances in the pampers, the dogs in the area would go quiet for a while, and after that they would become very active throughout the whole day.
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Curious to discover this effect on the dogs, and perhaps replicate it, Sammy who had been used to preparing marijuana “Jah” tea said they buy new pampers. Then they remove the cotton-wool-like packing inside the pampers and put it in a small pot with some water. They then boil it, until the colour of the water changes to light brown like any normal tea. The portion is then allowed to cool down. “Most people dilute it with milk while others prefer it with pegapak gin which makes it very strong’” he said. The concoction is usually sold in a plastic sachet for three thousand Leones, mostly when football matches are played in the evening hours. Sammy said the first time he tried the tea he had the soundest sleep he had ever had, for many many years. After that he said his level of “meditation” was very “high” and he was in that state for about four (4) days. “In most cases you feel like being ‘Super human’ with everything under your control,” he said, “Papay dis tin really good, you really need for taste am” (meaning this product is very good you really need to have a try.) “I realised I was hyper active after drinking the tea for about four days, something I’ve never experienced with Marijuana or Kush,” he said, describing the product as “cheap, superb and active.” According to Sammy, the Pampers tea is five times active and stronger than the usual Marijuana ‘Jah’ tea. Unlike the Marijuana ‘Jah’ tea which can be easily noticed the Pampers tea after cooling will look like the bottled soft drink ‘apple cidra.’ He disclosed that the Pampers tea became popular among youths who drink it before attending football matches, where they will spend the entire 90 minutes shouting slogans in support of their teams in high spirit. Manager of the Sierra Leone Psychiatric and Teaching Hospital, Dr Abdul Jalloh, explained thatdisposable diapers are mostly made using Polyethylene film, Polypropylene Non woven Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic, Absorbent core – Wood pulp fluff, Super Absorbent Polymer, Elastics Lycra/Spandex, Quick wicking layer and Adhesive Hot melts and Elastomeric. He said a disposable diaper consists of an absorbent pad sandwiched between two sheets of nonwoven fabric, and it is specially designed to absorb and retain body fluids, and the nonwoven fabric gives the diaper a comfortable shape and helps prevent leakage. The specialist psychiatrist says consuming the Diaper tea, causes anxiety, anger, mood-swings, sensory disturbances, diarrhea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain and serious behavioral issues. “To be honest I’m yet to receive a patient as a result of the use of Diaper tea,” he said, warning that if not controlled immediately will definitely ruin the health of the youthful population with its toxic chemicals. There have been calls by members of the public to increase the price of pampers to discourage its illegal use. This will however impact negatively on the budget of lactating mothers. Presently the cost of Pampers had increased from a thousand (Le 1,000) to a thousand and five hundred Leones (Le1,500) and investigations reveal that around the slum communities at night some people sell it for two thousand Leones (Le2,000). The Executive Director of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Abdul Sheku Kargbo, says pampers will never be banned as its primary use is legal but they as an Institution will continue with their sensitization on its misuse by some people. He disclosed that the use of milk to dilute the Pampers tea is exactly what makes it more potent and keeps the consumer very high and active. He called on the public to join the campaign on sensitizing the youths about the dangers of drinking pampers tea. Explaining the move from Marijuana to Relief tablet to Kush and now pampers tea Kargbo says it is a result of the feeding habit, as the victims always want to feel high. “When one product becomes addicted to them they go for another that is much higher,” he said. The NDLEA Executive Director said with the spread of the news about the use of pampers as tea, most youths are presently experimenting it to feel the taste. Search on the Internet, shows the chemicals found in the disposable diaper/pampas and reveals how harmful they are;
- Dioxins- Most disposable diapers are bleached white with chlorine, (Chemistryexplained.com) resulting in a byproduct called dioxins that leach into the environment and the diapers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dioxins are among the most toxic chemicals known to science and are listed by the EPA as highly carcinogenic chemicals.
According to the World Health Organization, exposure to dioxins may cause skin reactions and altered liver function, as well as impairments to the immune system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive functions.
- Sodium polycarbonateis a super absorbent chemical compound that is used in the fillers of many disposable diapers. It is composed of cellulose processed from trees that is mixed with crystals of polyacrylate. This chemical absorbs fluids and creates surface tension in the lining of the diaper to bind fluids and prevent leakage.
- Tributyl-tin (TBT)-Many disposable diapers contain a chemical called tributyl-tin (TBT). According to the EPA, this toxic pollutant is extremely harmful to aquatic (water) life and causes endocrine (hormonal) disruptions in aquatic organisms. It is a polluting chemical that does not degrade but remains in the environment and in food chain. According to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)-These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs are even suspected of causing cancer in humans (EPA.gov).
By Alhaji Manika Kamara
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