According to NGOs, around 20 kids aged between six and 20 years turn up at de-addiction centres each day for help after prolonged addiction to whiteners and adhesives. NGO further claims that a record number of kids have died in the past year as a result of substance abuse
The trend of kids in the city turning up at de-addiction centres for help after prolonged addiction to whitener and adhesives has been seeing an alarming rise and the facts will definitely shock concerned parents.
NGOs revealed to MiD DAY that about 20 kids, aged between six and 20 years, reach de-addiction centers each day after prolonged addiction to such substances.
The alarm bells began ringing in the early 1980s as the trend began to take a hold of the city and activists curtailed the abuse after several attempts of creating awareness about the ill effects of addiction to such substances.
Such cases further reduced in the early 1990s after a pitched battle by the government and private NGOs against manufacturers and elements promoting abuse of these substances.
However, the trend has returned with a vengeance and this time, however, it is not just street kids who are addicted, but even youngsters from affluent families are in its deathly grip.
"In the past few months, we have had a growing number of cases of children sniffing whitener to get high. It is shocking that kids aged between six and 20 years are being admitted to de-addiction centers by their parents after they discover the shocking trend.
It is also embarrassing for the parents in most cases and hence they hush up the matter," said Govind, an attendant at the government de-addiction centre.
Govind added that kids do not realise the ill effects of such addiction or the concept of addiction itself and get hooked due to peer pressure or because of indulgence by older members in the family or even siblings.
"The youngest kid currently being treated at the de-addiction centre is aged around five and a half years old. He picked up the habit from his 16-year-old brother.
Shockingly, the child kept asking his parents for pocket money, but they didn't bother to find out what such a young kid was doing with all the money," he added.
Member of the Karnataka Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KCPCR), Vasudev Sharma revealed some more shocking facts. He claimed that addictions are popular even amongst school kids studying at international schools in the city.
"Its not just whiteners that seems to be selling like hot cakes at stationary shops in the city, but common adhesives are also being used by kids to get a high. Kids keep small amounts of adhesive under their tongue, which causes them to get a high as it dissolves.
This leads them to experiment and get addicted to other substance abuse. Most number of cases have been registered from Jayanagar 5th and 9th blocks.
The problem is that shopkeepers have no moral rights, as they should maintain a rigid check on sale of such substances," said Sharma. The KCPCR further claimed that a record number of kids had died last year as a result of addiction.
"Since it is difficult to ascertain cause of death even in the post-mortem reports, many such incidents go unreported.
In case of affluent families, they opt for personal psychological guidance fearing embarrassment in society. Whereas street kids, who are addicted, are either picked up by activists or the police or handed over to us. Invariably, each kid who comes into de-addiction centers has been a prolonged user.
Even post treatment and medical and psychological help, the withdrawal symptoms are strong and high," Sharma added.
Several complaints regarding about stationary stores have come in from Jayanagar, Pottery Road, Old Madras Road, DG Halli, Shivaji Nagar and Peenya Industrial Layout.
Asked about some stores in these areas, the concerned persons anonymously confirmed that sales of whiteners have risen dramatically.
"We too were shocked to see the rising demand for whitener and thinner by school kids. We once caught a few kids standing behind our shop with handkerchiefs. When two kids collapsed on the spot, we realised what was happening and handed them over to their parents.
But since a single bottle of the liqud costs just Rs 20 and kids get pocket money of around Rs 100-200 nowadays, they buy in bulk and on the pretext of combined studies, sniff it and sleep for hours," said Harish Kumar, a stationary shopkeeper in Jayanagar. (He pointed out the increase in sale to certain NGOs in the area).
Psychologists say the common issue from sniffing whitener is respiratory blockage that induces a sense of intoxication.
"When inhaled, it directly mixes with the blood and affects the central nervous system. The child may remain in euphoria for a few hours and prolonged usage can cause permanent problems.
Overdose will impact the respiratory system and can cause death," said Dr Susheela Ramaswamy, a psychologist.
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