Dried Pawpaw Leaf: A Gateway Drug of Concern in the Fight against Drug Abuse

Dried Pawpaw Leaf: A Gateway Drug of Concern in the Fight against Drug Abuse

Recently, the pawpaw fruit, which we have grown to love for its sugary taste and texture that range from buttery smooth to crunchy has somewhat earned a bad reputation. In this narrative, the fruit is not the bone of contention but its leaf.


Over time, an average drug user gets used to the effect of a particular drug and with prolonged use, they become familiar with the unique ways in which these drugs affect them. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they have any control over the use of such drugs in terms of knowing when and when not to quit. This is where the concept of gateway drugs comes to play.


The concept of gateway drugs in simple terms is explained as the likelihood of a drug abuser to seek harder drugs in order to heighten their experience because the one they are used to doesn’t get them high enough, except in higher doses.

For instance, anyone who starts out with one stick of cigarette, is likely to progress to using more quantities with time and at the end of the day, they may end up consuming an entire pack of cigarettes. When this happens, the person becomes a chain smoker.


If a chain smoker has a group of people that he abuses drugs with, there are chances that he or she may be introduced to other drugs like cannabis (marijuana). To them, these harder drugs are more effective being that with just one hit, the psychoactive effects can sustain them throughout the entire day. Sadly, the harder drug –in this case cannabis –places them on a path where they get used to its effects in the same way they did with cigarettes. Ultimately, there’s going to be a need for increased doses of cannabis.


Enter dried pawpaw leaf, the new high. It is easily sourced and most drug abusers claim it as having a higher psychoactive effect than cannabis. The method of collecting dried pawpaw leaves involves harvesting wilted/dried pawpaw leaves directly from the tree trunk. The leaves are subsequently ground and rolled into wraps for smoking.


There are lots of reasons people start abusing drugs. Factors such as peer pressure and idleness appear to be the common ones that promote prolonged use of these drugs amongst younger

persons. In a situation where they do not have money to buy them, they resort to sourcing just about any drug in order to get high and this is where pawpaw leaves comes in.


Sule (not real name), a student of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education spoke about his experience at the recently held Anti Substance Abuse Programme (Brighter Life) held in his school. He said, “Guys here take so many drugs and there are many reasons why they do it; primarily because of their friends, they want to feel among. They want their friends to know that they can also take something stronger than what they are taking. So, they take the pawpaw leaf which makes them go ‘gaga’ while some go insane or even run mad. They become addicted to it because once they take it; they see it as a normal thing.”


Without an understanding of the nature of the active psychoactive agents found in dry pawpaw leaves, many people who have abused it as their first-time drug reportedly experience mental issues.