Zimbabwe's Codeine Cough Syrup Epidemic

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Cough syrup, yeah man. So many people are drinking it.

Everything here is down.

We've got a generation to lose if the government does not step up.

This one makes us feel better.

The cheapest way to get high – $5.

The police come after us, but we don't give a damn about them.

If they come we give them two bottles, they go back.

The streets of Harare are full of brown cough syrup bottles,

a sign of the addiction epidemic currently ravaging the country,

particularly affecting young people.

MARLBOROUGH Harare, Zimbabwe


In 2016 I started drinking BronCleer.

So per day I could drink four bottles - 400ml in total.

I wasn’t myself. I was someone else or something else.

The cough syrup, often of the brand BronCleer, contains codeine:

an opiate that can be used as a painkiller.

It’s relatively harmless in small doses, but can be highly addictive.

BronCleer also contains alcohol, so when you drink a lot of it,

it will make you feel both drunk and high.

In large quantities, it can lead to respiratory problems,