The recent arrest of drug pedlars in Pollachi and the death of a software professional in an apartment at Peelamedu, owing to excessive intoxication caused by consumption of whitener through inhalation, are an eye-opener for the police to step up vigil.

Until recently, the police were focusing on spurious liquor and illicit arrack as well as on Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances. Youngsters seem to have hit upon new ways of misusing/abusing pharmaceutical sedatives to get a ‘kick,' thus posing a big challenge to law enforcing agencies.

In August and September last year, Pollachi police arrested four persons in the town in three different cases. One of the persons was involved in all three cases of unauthorised vending of drugs and making quick money in collusion with pharmacists. The police arrested ‘Boss' alias Baskaran (33), Mani (29), Mani Sekar (19) and Pradeep Kumar (28) and the first accused was arrested on three instances for the same offence. Sedatives are generally prescribed and administered by qualified physicians and not by strangers. However, the Pollachi police found these drugs were being dispensed by these persons for sums ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 500. The druggists and those marketing the products were said to be earning a profit ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 300 per dose of the drug.

Superintendent of Police N. Kannan ordered for sustained crackdown on these offenders and three cases were registered in three months. Cases were registered against the accused under sections 8 (c) read with 22 (A) and 20 (b) (1) of NDPS Act in all the three instances. The police seized as many as 15 varieties of drugs from them. The seized drugs were largely sedatives, anti-allergic drugs and medicines to cure cough. These drugs provided “a calming effect to those who consumed it”, medical source disclosed. The police are now writing to the appropriate authorities to ensure a drive against over-the-counter dispensation of drugs without prescription. There is a need to educate the public to desist from practising self-medication.

In Coimbatore City, Rishib Sharma, in his twenties, was found dead immediately after the New Year in his apartment. His death came to light only when his neighbours returned from holiday. The cause of Sharma's death is far more worrying. The software professional was in the habit of mixing whitener (used in the correction of typewritten copies or computer print-outs) and inhaling the steam in order to get a hallucinating effect. This form of consumption and continuous inhalation of the substance is quite common among rag-picker boys. Beside the body of Sharma, police recovered a few bottles of whiteners used by the victim. This sort of drug consumption is quite common among even the educated. Police have advised stationers to be cautious while vending whiteners to individuals, especially when they ask for it in bulk. It is for parents, friends and co-workers to keep a watch on such practices of people and ensure remedial or corrective measures.

With newer forms of addiction through misuse of drugs and abuse of chemical products slowly catching up, the law enforcing agencies have a cause for concern, writes V.S. Palaniappan

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