Chemicals such as Chloral Hydrate, Diazepam and Alprazolam used

While the uproar over liquor scams and recent deaths by consumption of illicit liquor set the stage for contemporary political debate in the State, one spot that remains off the radar is the unbridled toddy adulteration.

Chemicals

Toddy compounds in and around the city continue to make a quick buck rigging the drink with chemicals such as Chloral Hydrate, Diazepam and Alprazolam which will have a long-term debilitating impact on the overall health of those consuming it.

“Daily, I see three to four people lying unconscious near the toddy compound for a long time and most of them get robbed of whatever little money they have,” says Prasad, an observer near Kothapet. This one is particularly favoured among the masses with customers, mostly daily wage manual labourers, flocking from as far as the old city.

Two years ago, when excise officials conducted raids and seized the adulterating substances from many toddy compounds, many labourers were admitted in government hospitals with complaints of seizures, oblivion and hallucinations.

Osmania and Gandhi Hospitals apart from the Institute of Mental Health in Erragadda were filled with patients complaining of the symptoms.

Initially assumed as the outcome of adulterated liquor, the symptoms later transpired to be those associated with deprivation from the addicting substances used earlier to rig the toddy.

However, excise officials failed to maintain the alacrity for long, which resulted in the substances coming back into the business.

Lack of spot detecting mechanisms is leaving the department helpless, say officials.

Detection

“Chloral Hydrate can be easily detected on the spot through a test-tube operation. With the help of IDPL, we have devised a way to detect Diazepam too at the spot. Now they have begun to use Alprazolam and to detect that we have to send the samples to the department's only laboratory. There is a long queue of samples from across the State,” informed D. Janardhana Rao, Deputy Commissioner of Prohibition of Excise, Ranga Reddy district.

Used in uncontrolled dosages by people unaware of the repercussions, Alprazolam will result in long term weakening of the central nervous system, say experts.

“Alprazolam belongs to benzodiazepine class of drugs. It is used in psychiatry and to treat epilepsy. Overdose of the drug will result in weakening of the body, mind and nervous system. The user will need gradually increased doses, hence will go on consuming more toddy,” says B. Rajasekhar, a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health, Erragadda.

Symptoms

Repercussions can be seen even if the addict stops consumption of the drug due to some reason. It will result in symptoms such as seizure, and also delirium some times, he said.

Mr.Rao said efforts were on to curb the usage of Alprazolam, by conducting raids on the vehicles transporting the drug.

Keywords: illicit liquor

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