Chandigarh, January 6, 2010: Although inhalant misuse by children and adolescents in most developed and developing nations is widespread, there have been no systematic studies of inhalant misuse by young adolescents in India.
In an effort to know the scale of the problem, Volunteers of Yuvsatta interviewed 25 children 25 children in Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26 and Sector 37’s Market of Chandigarh, to explore the characteristics of toluene inhalant use, which is commonly found in high concentrations in correction fluid or “white-out.”
Participants were between the ages of 9 to 18 years. Results revealed that inhalant misuse among street and working children typically began around age 10 years and was usually introduced by peers. Most participants used other intoxicants as well, including Fevibond (50 ml tubes of adhesive manufactured by Pidilite Industries Limited & worth Rs. 20 each), Iodex, Cough syrups, Beedi, cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs.
Replying to a set of questions prepared by volunteers of Yuvsatta-an NGO, street and working children, basically rag-pickers, beggars etc. have confirmed that they spend Rs 50 to Rs. 200 of their earnings daily to inhale ‘solution’, some even claim to spend more. Erazex’, better known as ‘solution’, is a popular intoxicant that is inhaled by street children not only in poor families but even amongst children from good background. Many children said they consumed drugs at the end of a tiring day as “survival becomes the all-consuming daily task”. The study showed that inhaling of ‘solution’ children feel “numb” while some reported that they “felt happy or it decreased pain”.
But, the most shocking aspect of the study is that drug abuse begins at around 10 years of age, starting with tobacco smoking. By the time they are 11years old, the children start inhaling ‘solution’ mainly because it is freely available across the counter of stationery shops. A diluter manufactured by Camlin Limited costs just Rs. 25/- per bottle. And one addicted child can easily consume 3-4 in a day.
The interaction shows that the use of alcohol comes in at a later stage as it is costlier than solution and petrol, the inhalants. Information regarding girl children is sketchy. This is partly because boys outnumber girls, though a significant number land up on the streets. A large number of them are known to join the ranks of the commercial sex workers.
Interestingly, none of the street children trusts the establishment because they have been abused or exploited by policemen and hospitals ask too many questions about parentage etc. In other words, access to resources that would help the children learn skills, change attitudes and perceptions which would decrease their stress, even if it is to a small extent, is absent.
In fact, majority of children interviewed wanted to stop drug use, but they don’t want to do anything “with establishment structures.”
To stop sale of ‘Solution’ Erasex and adhesives like Fevibond at retail outlets in the market, which has no other use than increasing addiction amongst young kids, Once earlier Deputy Commissioner RK Rao, issued order to ban its sale from stationery shops in the city. Now, Yuvsatta volunteers are planning to move Court with help of important people like Reeta Kohli (9814053002) Addl. Advocate General Punjab who is soon planning to file a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in this regard.
On January 12, 2010 i.e. National Youth Day which is also Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, Yuvsatta volunteers will also be starting a ‘Drug Free Bapu Dham Campaign’, in which two volunteers from US Kristeen Singh and an artist Adnan along with an NRI Doctor BS Makkar had also joined them.