Among amid restrictions over the addictive substances in urban India and the abundance of medical shops (that provides medicines without a prescription), the youth are exploring and exploiting new materials such as Codenine and Vicks. Here’s a report published at Times Of India :
Priyam Panchal's parents found nothing amiss with the 16-year-old sleeping all day and staying awake at night, until the Malad girl slapped her father for stopping her from going out with friends. It was then that her shocked parents found over 40 empty bottles of cough syrup under her bed.
Priyam (name changed) was not suffering from any ailment that would require her to consume cough suppressants. Her parents remained in denial for over a month and delayed consulting an expert even as she became more abusive and violent. When they finally took her to a psychiatrist, she was diagnosed with codeine addiction, which was making her heavily dependent on cough syrup. The Panchals sent her to the Drug Abuse Information Rehabilitation and Research Centre in Kalyan, where Priyam is undergoing a nine-month therapy.
De-addiction experts say Priyam's case is neither isolated nor surprising. Codeine addiction, or rather a trend northeastern states are infamous for, has suddenly caught the fancy of adolescents in the city. An essential ingredient in cough syrup, codeine's prolonged use can lead to addiction. Experts say 6-15% of those enrolling in de-addiction programmes in the city have a history of codeine or cough syrup addiction.
"The addiction hits those aged 13-14; the ratio of female addicts is more," said Dr Yusuf Merchant, president, DAIRRC. The observation was shared by other rehabilitation centres in the city, where authorities said four out of the 10 addicts are teenage girls.
Fr Joseph Pereira, founder, Kripa Foundation, a rehabilitation centre for those affected by chemical dependency, said codeine addiction was affecting a "silent and hidden majority". He said, "Young boys are into designer drugs, but for girls, cough syrups are the easiest to access and cheapest to use."
Some centres also receive housewives as codeine addicts. In February, a south Mumbai hospital treated a 32-year-old mother of two from Gamdevi. She was taken to the hospital with complaints of drowsiness, lethargy and extreme mood swings. "After tests costing about Rs 40,000, a doctor suspected that her problem was elsewhere. The woman confessed to the addiction only after four-five counselling sessions, citing lack of attention from her husband as the reason," said a doctor. "The woman admitted to buying cough syrups in bulk."
Counsellor Jatish Shah, who was attached to Masina Hospital's alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre, said the facility may have treated 400 patients over eight years. "Codeine addiction leaves no traces like smell. The number of housewives addicted to it could be shockingly large."
The FDA has started raiding chemist shops to find unexplained sales of cough syrup. It cancelled licences of 40 who sold over 1,500 bottles without bills or prescriptions. JJ Hospital professor of psychiatry Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla said some earn Rs 40,000-50,000 from selling the syrups and called the problem "alarming".