Abuse of correction fluids, freely available, rampant in city

Twelve-year-old Saddam Hussain from Uppuguda is like any other child, but his work and habits raise many eyebrows. The boy was recently caught for selling ID liquor and what surprised many was his statement that he was a whitener (correction fluid) addict and spent a part of the money he got, to purchase whitener substance.

Scores of children in the old city are getting addicted to the whitener abuse and the numbers are increasing every year, say social activists, what with the chemical substance and its sub-types freely available.

Whitener is a white fluid containing organic solvents, used to erase errors in handwritten or printed papers and is easily available at general stores and stationery shops across the city. Many are stocking it for guaranteed returns. An addict pours whitener on a handkerchief and uses it as an inhaler, which gives him a high for four to 10 hours. A 15ml bottle of whitener, along with a diluter of the same quantity, costs around Rs. 30, says Mohammed Turab, of COVA.

The practice is high among children of poorer sections of society in certain pockets of Nawab Sahab Kunta, Fatimanagar, Vattepally, R.N. Colony in Falaknuma; Hassannagar, Mahmoodnagar near Mir Alam Tank; Moula-ka-Chilla, Aman Nagar in Yakutpura. Similar is the situation in Puranapul, Dhoolpet, Jhirrah - Asifnagar and Mangalhat.

NGOs’ reluctance

“A major difficulty in rehabilitation and counselling of the addicts is absence of de-addiction centre in old city and reluctance of NGOs to take up the work,” says S. Q. Masood, a social activist. In fact, he had also approached the State Human Rights Commission seeking to streamline its sale.

Apart from whiteners, children are seen getting addicted to nail-paint remover, shoe polish liquid and Iodex to get the high at a cheap rate. The chemicals in these substances attack the brain and fuel instant intoxication. Over the time, these children turn to petty crimes like stealing and pocket picking to buy these substances, says Rajeshwari Luther, Director, Hope Trust. The NGO recently organised an awareness campaign and counselling session along with police in old city.

Whiteners can trigger asthma and cause dizziness, confusion, depression, headache, hallucinations, seizures, vision and other problems. Long-term consumption may result in kidney and liver damage, say the de-addiction counsellors.

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