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Misuse of cough syrup on the rise

The most common cough mixture being abused/misused is Broncleer, which many have said is the new "drug of choice" among the youth at the moment.

Codeine, or more commonly codeine found in cough mixture, is causing concern in Benoni as the public has noticed an increase in discarded, empty bottles strewn in parks and other recreational areas.

The City Times visited two national pharmacies, one in Northmead and the other in Farrarmere, to find out just how accessible the drug is.

According to the Northmead pharmacy assistant, Abram Mohlake, codeine on its own is a schedule six drug but due to the substance being diluted in other mixtures, the potency level drops thus resulting in the drug becoming easily accessible as an over-the-counter medication.

“A lower schedule drug means no prescription is required from a medical practitioner,” said Mohlake.


Actonville Park burdened by social ills

He explained that codeine can numb pain experienced from other ailments but that it can become addictive if misused.

“We have a system that’s linked nationally.

“When you arrive, we check the profile of the person and will load their details onto our system which will reflect at any of our outlets.

“Once you are on file we can monitor the misuse of any substance, for example. if you arrive today and require a codeine-based mixture and arrive the next day with a similar request we can pick up the abuse because the system will indicate what you purchased previously.

“The system has been implemented for various ad-hoc reasons but it does assist in keeping track of the misuse of medication.

“A lot of young people come through to purchase cough mixtures, sometimes they are school learners.

“Those who decline to share their particulars are more than likely abusers and if they don’t receive what they want then some do go to private pharmacies.

Chairperson of Korsman Bird Sanctuary in Lakefield Jane Trembath said evidence of Broncleer abuse could also be found in the area.

“For a while, we have been picking up Broncleer cough mixture bottles littered around Korsman,” said Trembath.

“We researched it and found there are major addiction problems in many African countries, and it has now reached here.”

Trembath told the City Times that according to her research, Broncleer has been banned in neighbouring country Zimbabwe.

In a recent article published in the City Times, a park in Actonville was found littered with used bottles of cough mixture, more specifically, Broncleer.

Dispensary manager Philip Vogel, at the national pharmacy outlet in Farrarmere, explained that while there is rife misuse, measures in place at pharmacies can help to curb the misuse.

“You are only able to control this within your own environment.

“If misusers don’t receive what they want from us, nothing stops them from going somewhere else,” he said.

“We have a system that will record what is purchased by an individual but we also maintain an age restriction for over-the-counter medication.

“Medication is sold to those over the age of 16 and if they appear younger than 16 we ask for either proof of identification or they have to call a parent or legal guardian for the purchase.”

Vogel added that the pharmacy sold Broncleer but with a prescription only.

Codeine is also found in a range of other medications, including Myprodol, Mybulen, Benylin C, Syndol, AdcoDol, Sinutab C and Sinumax.

In a recent documentary compiled by a national investigative television show, it was stated that several high-profile celebrities endorse the use of codeine-laced drinks, resulting in the popularity of the drug skyrocketing in recent years.

According to the documentary, users will purchase large amounts of codeine-laced cough syrup and mix it with a cold drink in order to experience a high.

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