Pubdate: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Source: Times of India, The (India)
Copyright: Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 2004
Author: Rohit Wadhwaney
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Youth)


NEW DELHI: So, you are sure your kid's not doing drugs. Try going through 
his drawers. You may not find marijuana or hash, but there are chances you 
might find a few bottles of Iodex. No, his joints don't pain very often. 
He's eating the pain-relieving ointment for a high.

High Addiction: Medicines Vs Narcotics

Corex Rs 47 (100 ml)

Phensydril Rs 45 (100 ml )

Benadryl Rs 41 ( 100 ml)

Planocough Rs 37 (100 ml )

Mid's Linctus Codein Rs 45 (100 ml)

Alprax Re 1 per tablet

Eptoin Rs 1.20 per tablet

Hash (charas) Rs 250-300 for 10 gm

Marijuana (ganja) Rs 100 for 10 gm

Ecstasy (E's) Rs 800-1000 per tablet

Acid (blot) Rs 400-500 per drop

"It is an awesome high," says Kuldeep (name changed), an 11th standard 
student of a top Delhi school.

"Just try taking it man. It's better than marijuana, hash or any other 
drug," he says as he pastes the rather pungent ointment on bread with his 
fingers. He grimaces as he bites into the "sandwich": "The taste is pretty 
bad, but it's worth it."

Try smelling Iodex and you will find it an ordeal. The smell is so strong. 
How these kids - mostly school children according to top psychologists - 
thought of eating it is beyond imagination.

"I started by sniffing at it for 5-10 minutes at a stretch. It gave me a 
high," says Gaurav, a 12th standard student. "I thought if only sniffing it 
can give you such a kick, what would it be like to eat it. I was dead 
right," he adds.

Most of his friends take cough syrups and sleeping tablets for a high, says 
Gaurav. Medicines, he says, "are a lot cheaper and easily accessible as 
compared to drugs like hash or marijuana."

But Vinay, a first-year student of Delhi University, who has a friend that 
owns a chemist, says, "Benedril, Corex, Fencidil (all couph syrups) and 
Iodex are outdated. Been there done that."

The latest, he reveals, is Eptoin, anti-epileptic tablets. "That is what I 
call a high," he says. "It numbs your mind for a good 3-4 hours."

Shailender Tilak, who owns a chemist in Saket, a posh south Delhi area, 
confirms this. "For the past few months, I have kids, barely 20 years of 
age, coming to me with prescriptions of Eptoin.

"Initially, I would give it to them because they had prescriptions. But 
then I was told that these kids are eating it for a high. I was zapped," he 

Tilak says though he cannot say no to cough syrups or Iodex "unless the 
case is extremely suspicious", he does not sell Eptoin or sleeping tablets 
like Alprax to any kid unless he or she is accompanied by a parent or 
senior person.

And if you thought just a handful of kids are into medicines (for 
addiction), think again.

"I get many many cases of kids virtually addicted to cough syrups and 
Iodex. Their numbers have doubled in the past five years," says top 
psychologist Dr Sameer Parekh.

He, however, is yet to see Eptoin cases. "It must be a relatively new 
trend. But I won't be surprised if I begin to get some very soon.

But why do healthy adolescents turn to addiction in the first place? 
Explains Parekh: "Either they do it to be part of the 'in' crowd or they 
are just experimenting with different highs. Be it marijuana, hash, 
alcohol, cough syrups or ointments, they all give a different sort of high."

World Health Organisation recently did a survey in top schools of India and 
came to the conclusion that "the problem is very significant."

"It's very difficult to get an exact figure of how many school and college 
going children are taking medicines to get high, but there are more than we 
ever expected," says WHO's Dr Harish Kumar, who blamed it on the "pressure 
of studies."

"Cough syrups and Iodex are the most common," he says. "We came across a 
few Eptoin cases and that left us shocked. It is an extremely toxic drug, 
and has the ability to destroy blood cells, bone marrow and can even cause 
brain damage."

But neither Gaurav nor Vinay are worried what happens to them five or 10 
years down the line.

"Nobody's addicted to anything. We do it till we enjoy it. When we get 
bored of it, we'll stop," Vinay says. And then maybe they'll try something 
else, something new.
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