Abuse of blood tonic as an intoxicant cannot be substantiated

SADE OGUNTOLA examines a recent trend among youths who use blood tonic as an intoxicant and highlights medical experts’ views on the implications of such an attitude.


Experts have warned youths to desist from experimenting with blood tonic to get intoxicated because of the little alcohol it contains.

Dr Victor Makanjuola, a consultant psychiatrist said exploiting the percentage of alcohol in blood tonic just as they did with Codeine is not justifiable, considering the availability of satchet alcohol packs with high concentration of alcohol.

Makanjuola said that the report that blood tonic is used as an intoxicant is curious especially since no case had been reported or anyone treated for addiction from blood tonic at the psychiatry department of the University College Hospital, Ibadan.

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He said, “I find the report of this new trend curious, except one sees one person using it, then one can now find out what other benefits they gain from doing this.

“I have not come across any at the psychiatry clinic that use blood tonics to get high; we are also on the lookout to see if we will find someone.

“The most common things that we are aware that people use are hemp, codeine, and tramadol as well as Rohypnol, a benzodiazepine with properties similar to those of Valium (diazepam), used in some countries to treat severe insomnia.”

Dr Makanjuola, however, said the long list of illicit drugs and chemicals consumed by youths have led to suicide, depression and other grave sicknesses of the body and mind.

According to him, overall, men are three times more likely than women to use cannabis, cocaine or amphetamines, whereas women are more likely than men to engage in the non-medical use of opioids, sedatives and tranquillizers.

He added “in Nigeria, one in seven persons aged 15 to 64 years had used a drug (other than tobacco and alcohol) in the past year. Among every four drug users in Nigeria, one is a woman. Also, one in five people who had used drugs in the past year is suffering from drug use disorders.”

The mental health expert listed consequences of substance use to include physical health issues such as hepatitis B and C, HIV and ulcers; disruption of family life, divorce/separation, loss of job/status, disruption of academic career and sudden death from its overdose.

Mr Adeyinka Ishola, a deputy director, Pharmaceutical services, UCH Ibadan, stated that blood tonic is meant as a supplement for individuals with low blood levels and alcohol was added to dissolve the salt that is used in its formulation.

Ishola, the immediate past chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Oyo State Branch, said exploiting the percentage of alcohol in blood tonic just as they did with codeine was simply an abuse of the blood tonic.

He stated that although blood tonic, if taken in large doses, can really intoxicate, its abuse is not advisable because it can lead to iron overload.

Mr Ishola stated that the implication of iron overload is grave, especially in individuals already with a compromised metabolic system due to kidney or liver disease.

According to him, “overtime, aside from the possibility of shutting down internal organs of the body like the liver and kidney, it can aggravate the condition in those with underlying kidney or liver problem.”

Mrs Margaret Bolanle Salako, the immediate past chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Oyo State Chapter, despite the report on persons using blood tonic as an intoxicant, there has not been any noticeable increase in patronage of blood tonics in the community.

According to her, “there has not been a jump in the number of people asking to buy blood tonic in the community, at least not around my area.”