The latest was the death of an 18-year-old girl on last Thursday. Doctors in the emergency department of the Civil Hospital in Aizawl said 30 young people were treated in the hospital in January and at least 20 in February till last Saturday.
Jeremy V Pachuau, a doctor at the hospital, said four people died of drug overdose since January and the drugs abused are mainly Respira-D, Nitrazepam, Alprazolam and Pacitane, not the usual spasmo proxyvon and parvon spas, widely used by the Mizos earlier.
Pacitane, also known as Pepe, is the in thing these days as there is a misconception among girls that the drug gives them a whiter complexion, besides giving them a kick. Dr Pachuau said the young girls, mostly fans of Korean film stars, consumed Pacitane to become fairer, sometimes resulting in sudden death. He said the drug makes the girls pale and not fair.
The preferred time for drug abuse was night and several fatalities happened in sleep and was noticed when the youngster did not wake up in the morning. Their parents then rushed them to the hospital, he said. A majority of the patients were girls.
Pacitane is a drug for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and is never prescribed to people below the age of 18 in developed countries, Pachuau said. The chemical reaction of Pacitane if taken with other intoxicating drugs or alcohol could be fatal, he said.
State chief minister Lal Thanhawla, addressing a press conference on January 9, said that 11 young people died due to drug overdose from December 20, 2012 to January 8, 2013. Doctors in the Civil Hospital in Aizawl said around 40 young people taken to the hospital after suffering from drug overdose were saved since January.
Pachuau, who is conducting a study on the recent drug problem, said that the youngest patient brought to the hospital was just 12. "The patients brought to the Emergency due to drug overdose were between the age of 12 and 40, but a high majority of them were below 25," he said.
These young people were not found to be addicted to heroin or clinical drugs like spasmo proxyvon or parvon spas, prominent pain-killers widely-abused in Mizoram earlier.