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  Junkies get a kick out of lizard dung

June 27 2002 at 03:52PM

Kano, Nigeria - Health authorities in northern Nigeria are alarmed by a new craze among young people experimenting with potentially deadly cocktails of drugs and lizard excrement.

"We have adopted a youth sensitisation campaign on the radio and television to curb the menace," Katsina health commissioner Yusuf Suleiman told a meeting to mark World Anti-Drugs Week.

Across Nigeria's poor northern belt, drug users are turning in increasing numbers to lizard dung, rubber solution and petrol to get high - and running serious health risks.

Officials claim the craze is growing because of their success in clamping down on more traditional intoxicants, but dung users say they are turning to lizards by choice.

'Since I discovered the use of lizard dung I have found peace'
"I no longer have to spend much money on drugs since I discovered the efficacy of lizard excrement," said 28-year-old Ado Kabir outside his home in the northern city of Kano.

"A lot of drug users are moving on to lizard excrement. It's easy to find and efficient in its effect," he smiles, slowly blowing a plume of smoke out from under his bushy moustache.

Kabir says there are many ways to consume lizard dung - a veritable recipe book in fact - but the best is to mix it with water and a blue laundry detergent.

"When mixed with 'blue' in water, it produces a strong effect similar to the effect of drinking strong whisky to excess on a hot day," he says.

"People who are too keen on their health boil the mixture and filter it before drinking. It has a potassium taste and is really good," he adds.

Lizard excrement can also be dried and turned into a powder to be smoked with tobacco, cannabis or heroin or boiled with tea or marijuana to make a drink.

"The effect is indeed exhilarating," Kabir says.

Bala Abu, a 20-year-old unemployed high school graduate, says he smokes lizard turds to forget his woes.

"I finished high school with no chance of going to college because my parents can't afford to pay," he complains. "I can't find a job given my low academic qualifications. Since I discovered the use of lizard dung I have found peace because whenever I smoke it with tobacco all my worries are gone."

Whatever the desperate youth of Kano believe they are getting from lizard dung, health care workers are concerned at the risks. For their part, the dung users are complacent.

"I don't believe it is harmful, because nobody has fallen sick from its consumption," Kabir declares. "As far as I'm concerned, it is safe and harmless." - Sapa-AFP

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