Andhra Pradesh

Killer cleaner: Deadly consequences of consuming sanitisers as a substitute for liquor

After the government-run wine shops in the State were reopened following a long gap caused by the COVID-induced lockdown, a video of a tippler standing in a crowd saying ‘alcohol’ is the medicine for COVID has gone viral. Another tippler beside him was saying that he would do anything for liquor and it is more important than his life.

The video which is still in circulation shows how desperate those addicted to alcohol consumption are and how misinformation could drive one to take extreme steps. One such consequence is the consumption of alcohol-based hand sanitisers as a substitute for liquor which has claimed several lives in the State so far.

 

Sixteen deaths in Prakasam district due to such consumption has brought to the fore several issues surrounding addiction, misinformation and the need for the government to monitor the sale of sanitisers which are now available at every nook and corner.

In April, a 30-year-old man of Nellore died after consuming a hand sanitiser and petrol as a substitute for liquor. There are many other such incidents and many are even addicted to the hand sanitiser. A similar kind of addiction to whiteners, a stationery product, is prevalent among a section of youngsters. There are also cases of deaths due to the consumption of a hand sanitiser by mistake.

Non-availability of alcohol and increased prices made many cross borders to smuggle liquor to satiate their urge. However, some resorted to using hand sanitisers as an alternative because of the fact that they contain 70% alcohol. In fact, not many types of liquor contain such a high amount of alcohol as the alcohol-based sanitisers. There are also sanitisers with 99% alcohol content to disinfect gadgets.

 

Difficult to monitor

Following the fatalities, the police have begun keeping an eye on tipplers. Currently, there is no mechanism to monitor the sale of hand sanitisers for consumption by alcoholics, says an official.

Now most of the liquor shops are open in the State and scarcity of liquor is not a problem though high prices are an issue for many.

Having witnessed such cases of ingestion of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, the United States of America’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a report warning the public of serious health issues, including death, due to the ingestion of sanitisers containing methanol.

 

De-addiction

It is the State government’s strategy to reduce consumption of liquor by increasing its price and reducing availability in a phased manner.

On the other hand, the State government has launched 15 de-addiction centres to treat alcoholics covering all the districts in May. Each centre will have 11 staff, including a psychiatrist, doctors with MBBS qualification and three counsellors besides a 15-bed facility for severely addicted persons.

The government citing the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre reports stated that 3.7% of the population (47 lakh) in the age group 10-75 consume alcohol regularly in the State.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 8:00:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/killer-cleaner-deadly-consequences-of-consuming-alcohol-based-sanitisers-as-a-substitute-for-liquor/article32311154.ece

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