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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cough syrup takes more teens on a trip Codeine Addiction Catches Fancy Of Adolescents In City


Mumbai: Priyam Panchal's parents found nothing amiss with the 16-year-old sleeping all day and staying awake at night, until the Malad girl slapped her father for stopping her from going out with friends. It was then that her shocked parents found over 40 empty bottles of cough syrup under her bed. 
    Priyam (name changed) was not suffering from any ailment that would require her to consume cough suppressants. Her parents remained in denial for over a month and delayed consulting an expert even as she 
became more abusive and violent. When they finally took her to a psychiatrist, she was diagnosed with codeine addiction, which was making her heavily dependent on cough syrup. The Panchals sent her to the Drug Abuse Information Rehabilitation and Research Centre in Kalyan, where Priyam is undergoing a nine-month therapy. 
    De-addiction experts say Priyam's case is neither isolated nor surprising. Codeine addiction, or rather a trend northeastern states are infamous for, has suddenly caught the fancy of adolescents in the city. An essential ingredient in cough syrup, codeine's prolonged use can lead to addiction. Experts say 6-15% of those enrolling in de-addiction programmes in the city have a history of codeine or cough syrup addiction. 
    "The addiction hits those aged 13-14; the ratio of female addicts is more," said Dr Yusuf Merchant, president, DAIRRC. The observation was shared by other rehabilitation centres in the city, where authorities said four out of the 10 addicts are teenage girls. 
    Fr Joseph Pereira, founder, Kripa Foundation, a rehabilitation centre for those affected by chemical dependency, said codeine addiction was affecting a "silent and hidden majority". He said, "Young boys are into designer drugs, but for girls, cough syrups are the easiest to access and cheapest to use." 
    Some centres also receive housewives as codeine addicts. In February, a south Mumbai hospital treated a 32-year-old mother of two from Gamdevi. She was taken to the hospital with complaints of drowsiness, lethargy and extreme mood swings. "After tests costing about Rs 40,000, a doctor suspected that her problem was elsewhere. The woman confessed to the addiction only after four-five counselling sessions, citing lack of attention from her husband as the reason," said a doctor. "The woman admitted to buying cough syrups in bulk." 
    Counsellor Jatish Shah, who was attached to Masina Hospital's alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre, said the facility may have treated 400 patients over eight years. "Codeine addiction leaves no traces like smell. The number of housewives addicted to it could be shockingly large." 
    The FDA has started raiding chemist shops to find unexplained sales of cough syrup. It cancelled licences of 40 who sold over 1,500 bottles without bills or prescriptions. JJ Hospital professor of psychiatry Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla said some earn Rs 40,000-50,000 from selling the syrups and called the problem "alarming". 
Cough syrups can be classified as codeine-based and non-codeine based The codeine-based are usually prescribed for bedtime use as they cause drowsiness The effects of codeinebased syrups could stretch up to 12 hours, as against 7 hours in case of normal ones 
The young mainly abuse cough syrups 
Some Side Effects 
    Prolonged use of cough syrups can cause breathing problems, swelling of throat, lips and even face 
    Serious side-effects include anxiety attacks, hallucinations, dizziness, high blood pressure, impaired judgement, trembling of hands Rehab Procedure 
Those suffering from addiction need elaborate therapy by experts that could last up to nine months or more Besides de-addiction pills, addicts are also treated for associated problems like depression and loneliness HOW TO DETECT ADDICTION AT HOME? 
Parents should take hints from deteriorating performance in school like getting poor grades, absenteeism or even dropping out of class Ignoring the need to finish homework, overlooking major exams Secretiveness is one a vital sign of abuse as those dependent on drugs hide bottles Sudden change in friends' circle and hanging out more with new people with different tastes, behavior 
Significant changes in mood like the child becomes irritable, gets fatigued, feels lonely Why Is It Abused? 
Cough syrups have high abuse potential because of cost and easy access 
The hassle-free usage also makes it more preferable for more as it curbs risks of contracting infection, side-effects 
Experts say cough syrups give desired sensations in shortest possible time


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