Aizawl, Juna 11 : Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla on Wednesday voiced concern over a sudden spurt in teen deaths due to suspected drug overdose during the Christmas and New Year festival.
Quoting hospital records, Lal Thanhawla said at least 10 teenagers between the age of 16 to 21 have died from December 20 to January 8.
“On December 20, a 19-year-old girl at Electric Veng died while she was asleep. The cause of her unexpected death was declared to be heart attack,” he said. On December 22, an 18-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy died under similar circumstances later in the night, he said.
A number of teens were brought to the Aizawl civil hospital in comatose conditions during the past few weeks. “In one such case, a 13-year-old girl was brought to the hospital with heroin overdose symptoms. The girl regained consciousness after getting drug overdose treatment. The doctors were puzzled as the girl did not show any sign of drug dependency,” Lal Thanhawla said.
This prompted Lal Thanhawla to call a press conference at his office on Wednesday afternoon. “How we should fight this social menace is a matter of great concern. The government is taking all possible steps to curb the social evil,” he said.
According to Dr Jeremy V Pachuau of Aizawl civil hospital, addiction to cough syrups and other over-the-counter drugs has suddenly caught the fancy of adolescents in Aizawl.
The most commonly abused cough syrups, as per the doctor, are Coscopin D, Respira D, Norvent D, Instaryl D and Ascoril D, which contain dextramorphan hydromobide and chlorpheniramine malaete.
“Side effects include feelings of depression and sadness, dilated pupils, dissociation – trouble differentiating between what is real and what are hallucinations, panic attacks, psychotic episodes – particularly severe after prolonged over consumption of cough syrup,” the doctor said. “It is more dangerous when taken with grape wine,” he added.
According to the doctor, many teens in Aizawl have also abused pacitane and cataspa, in a desperate attempt to get light skin. This, he said, was cause by the craze over the light-skinned Korean celebrities. “Prolong use of these drugs make them pale that make them believe that they get lighter complexion. This is more common among girls,” the doctor said.
The doctor said that many drug stores in Aizawl, which have restricted licences sold these drugs, which are prohibited without doctor prescription.
During the press conference, Lal Thanhawla also stressed the need for more stringent inspection on the drug stores who are selling restricted drugs. He also raised concern over Mizoram being used by across the border drug smugglers as a route to ferry party drugs like pseudoephedrine.
“Pseudoephedrine tablets are mainly smuggled from Delhi. I wonder how the drugs could go undetected in high-security airport like Delhi Airport. This is a matter of concern that needs to be discussed with the Central government,” he said.
Pseudoephedrine tablets worth crores of rupees were seized at Lengpui Airport in Aizawl during 2012. Lal Thanhawla said after repeated hauls, the drug smugglers have now resorted to couriers to ferry the drugs.