HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

9-year-olds in Patiala fall victim to substance abuse

Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times  Patiala, June 27, 2014
First Published: 11:02 IST(27/6/2014) | Last Updated: 11:04 IST(27/6/2014)

When children his age play with toys, this 9-year-old boy from Rasulpur village here has got hooked onto drugs.

It was two years ago that a friend of his started him on inhaling drugs and since then he has been losing his innocence bit by bit.

After he was initiated into inhaling ink remover, he graduated into inhaling tyre-puncture solution and other drugs. And he repeatedly stole money to meet his needs. His labourer parents, who find it difficult to earn two square meals a day, were shocked when they came to know of this.

He is not the only one as he says there are around 20 children his age addicted to different drugs.

This shows the alarming proportion the menace has acquired in the state. The only ray of hope is that the government has started taking care of his rehabilitation and is treating him free of cost at the state-ofthe-art drug de-addiction centre at Saket here.

“I started two years ago when a friend asked me to inhale the liquid. I smelled it for four to five times and then got hooked onto it, as it was mind-blowing and made me ecstatic. I had no worries,” he says, narrating how he started bunking school in class 2 at age seven, and repeatedly inhaled the liquid or the tyrepuncture solution.

“It generates a lot of heat and energy to overcome which we used to bathe in the canal for hours.

We got a kick out of it,” he says, adding that there are around 20 children living near Rasulpur Saidan village also hooked onto drugs.

According to him, he, along with seven to eight friends of his, started buying drugs from a grocery shop. The shopkeeper, without realising its ill-effects, sold drugs to them, turning them into hardcore addicts.

When Vini Mahajan, principal secretary, health and family welfare, visited the de-addiction centre two days ago, she was appalled to see the boy there.

Parminder Kaur, project director of the de-addiction centre, says, “The mother and grandmother of the boy brought him here. His mother was upset when she came to know that he had left school and remained missing the entire day. Later, she was flooded with complaints of petty thefts from her neighbours, pointing fingers at the boy. As she heard about the de-addiction programme, she came to us.”

In the past two weeks, under the 24-hour supervision of expert doctors, the boy has started showing signs of improvement, says Parminder. She says they also approached the other children, but their families were not ready to accept that their children are into drugs.

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