Schools across Delhi are on an alert after a top school in Greater Noida caught students of class XI and XII using eraser fluid to get high.
The incident came to light when CCTV footage showed several empty bottles of whiteners across the school. Further investigation revealed that students were not just experimenting with the fluid, but were, in fact, addicted to it. “This addiction is not new, but of late, I have patients as young as 11 who got hooked on to it,” says Dr Deepak Raheja of The Hope Foundation. He says easy accessibility is the main reason for the increasing number of cases. “The eraser pen is available at stationery shops for just Rs 30, and no one suspects it of being a narcotic,” he says.
Dr Jitendra Nagpal of the VIMHANS mental health centre, who gets two patients in the 10-15 age group every month, explains: “Toluene, the addictive in eraser fluid, leads to respiratory problems and life threatening diseases such as cancer and brain damage.”
Schools are being vigilant. “We caught a student sniffing corrective whitener six years ago, and have been very strict since,” says Madhulika Sen, principal, Tagore International.
A 15-year-old addict shares his story
I was in class V when I first sniffed eraser fluid. Four of us bought the bottle from the school stationery and went straight into the toilet to try it out. We put it on a hanky and sniffed it — I remember feeling slightly dizzy. One thing led to another, and soon, I was totally into it. One day, a year later, my mother noticed something on my hanky and figured that something was wrong. She started questioning me, and I could not hide it anymore. My dad and mom were horrified; they made me quit that school. I am now in a rehabilitation clinic, where I am learning to fight the addiction. The craving was hard to fight at first. I lost my appetite and started losing weight. But, I have decided not to regret the past, and to focus on fighting my addiction and getting my life back on track.