So we recently saw ‘High’, a play which dealt with the effects of substance abuse in some Nigerian families and let’s just say, we were hooked.

We promise to be well behaved in how many substance abuse analogies we use.

What was ‘High’ about? Well, a group of childhood teenage friends on holiday from boarding schools have their lives, as well as the lives of their parents and families, turned upside down when one of them suffers a drug overdose.

The play was full of many thought-provoking moments and quotes.

When Kayode tells Lami that he “like the ‘S’” on her chest, he didn’t know it would change his life forever.

You see, he had been teased by his friends endlessly for being a wimp and ends up being pressured into ‘drinking-up-to-man-up’ so that he can profess his undying love for Lami – who herself is convinced by Maimuna (Ryan’s sometimes side-chick) that Kayode considers her as just a friend.

The story ends with him being unknowingly drugged by Ryan and hospitalised for a codeine overdose.

Kayode ends up in rehab and his family never really recovers.

In a scene that left us almost despondent, Mrs Cole (a new member of the rehab family who becomes addicted to prescription painkillers after a difficult childbirth) accidentally burnt her newborn baby because she was high on prescription drugs that made her “feel so good and less depressed.”

By the way, we would like to mention here that codeine, which is commonly found as a prescription (as well as an over-the-counter) drug for cough, is one of the most abused substances in Nigeria.

“If God made weed grow naturally, then how can it be bad?”

This comment by Kayode’s rehab inmate ‘Slow’ (His given name is Richard) had us thinking hard.

But not too hard before we suffered a mental meltdown.

Another killer line from ‘Slow’: “Love is like drugs and if you’ve never been high before, then you’ve never loved because a shish opens the third eye…”

We should add that the need to remain in the favour of friends and admirers is a known path to a life of substance dependence for a lot of people.

Parents should show greater responsibility in limiting the amount of pressure they place on their kids.

In the play, Mrs Johnson makes use of emotional blackmail to coarse her daughter, Lami into seating for countless scholarship examinations. This makes her give in to the pressure of taking a ‘catalyst’ (from Ryan) to aid her studying and not disappointing her deceased father.

Finally, now is the time for us to accept the fact that rehabilitation is not a disease.

If Mr and Mrs Balogun had gone to check up on their son, Kayode instead of lying to all his friends that “he’s with a relative in Ibadan” and being ashamed because of what the society would think or say, Kayode would not have become more entangled in drugs.

It took his sister Ronke Balogun, to speak sense to their parents.

‘High’ was supported by the MTN Foundation for two very good reasons – one, as part of its multistakeholder Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) and, two, because it loves Arts and Culture and supports the best of Nigerian theatre.

If you need more information about substance abuse in Nigeria and what the MTN Foundation is doing about it, we think www.asapmtnf.com is a fine resource for you to check out.

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