Drug documentaries on the opioid crisis can serve an important role in helping people learn more, and learning can inspire change. The opioid epidemic’s effects aren’t just felt in the United States. The Sweet Sweet Codeine Documentary has been capturing headlines and earned a journalist from Nigeria an Emmy nomination.

Sweet Sweet Codeine, A Film on Codeine Abuse in Nigeria

Ruona J. Meyer, an investigative journalist in Nigeria and a BBC correspondent, went undercover to take an in-depth look at the cough syrup crisis in Nigeria. The documentary film on drugs has won and been nominated for different awards, and most recently it was nominated from an “International Emmy in the ‘News and Current Affairs’ category.

Thousands of Nigerians are addicted to codeine cough syrup, and the medication has been a street drug. According to government estimates, people consume up to three million bottles of syrup every day in just two northern states in Nigeria.

The documentary showed not only the realities of the opioid crisis and codeine abuse in Nigeria but also the corruption contributing to the problem. The addictive codeine syrup has led to soaring crime rates and deaths. In Nigeria, codeine cough syrup is available only by prescription, but as is the case with prescription opioids here in America, the drug is often diverted from medical use.

How Drug Documentaries Are Exposing Deeper Troubles

Drug documentaries like Sweet Sweet Codeine have more ability to change the world than people often realize as they can draw attention to situations on a larger scale and bring change.

A few examples of documentaries that did facilitate awareness and change through the years have included:

  • Blackfish: This documentary looked at the inside world and workings of SeaWorld. The documentary showed the treatment of orca whales in captivity, and the documentary led SeaWorld to completely change their operations as a result of backlash.
  • Bowling for Columbine: Michael Moore’s 2002 documentary took a look at the history of guns in America within the context of the Columbine School Massacre. The movie led to increased attention on gun control, and retailers like K-Mart stopped selling ammunition and guns for good following the film’s release.
  • Titicut Follies: Titicut Follies was groundbreaking as it was released in the 1960s before the era of the Netflix documentary. It took a look inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater. The film looked at how mental health patients were treated in the country at that time.

As far as codeine abuse in Nigeria, the film Sweet Sweet Codeine has already promoted change. Following the documentary, the Nigerian government announced a ban on codeine, following months of trying to figure out the appropriate response to deal with the codeine epidemic.

Other Popular Documentaries on Opioid Use Around the World

Heroin: Cape Code, USA took a look at the heroin epidemic impacting small towns across America. The documentary focused on eight young people addicted to heroin and living in scenic Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Another one of the best drug documentaries for understanding the opioid epidemic in the U.S. is a Netflix original called Heroin(e). It looks at three women working to combat the opioid epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia, which has an overdose rate that’s ten times higher than the national average.

Sweet Sweet Codeine is unique since it looks not only at the opioid epidemic in America, but in another country – Nigeria – for a broader perspective on the challenge.

Recognizing the Signs of Codeine Addiction

Drug documentaries not only help bring about policy change, but they can also help people at the individual level. They can help show families and loved ones the signs of drug abuse that could be occurring, or how they can help their loved one. Signs of codeine addiction or abuse can include:

  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Continuing to take codeine despite negative side effects
  • The inability to stop using codeine, even when one wants to
  • Taking codeine without a prescription
  • Developing a tolerance and needing higher doses to get the same effects
  • Using codeine only for certain effects, such as feeling relaxed or high

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