Drug Abuse Among Children in India
Lest we forget that substance abuse and drug addiction is an international problem affecting millions of people worldwide, we need only turn to news out of India about its rampant problem of children using inhalants. The Press Information Bureau of the Government of India reports that The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) published findings that nearly one hundred percent of India’s street children abuse one form of substance or another. The most common substance to be abused was ink eraser fluid. Children in the United States also abuse inhalants, often in the form of household solvents. We refer to inhalant abuse as “huffing.” Inhalant abuse is an extremely common and heartbreaking problem among homeless children who live in slums across the world – from Brazil to South Africa to India and beyond.
To address this problem, the Indian government has made efforts to limit the number of inhalants that get to street children. They have recommended:
(i) Banning of production of bottled Correction Fluids as well as bottled Thinners, of any chemical composition, both for ink erasing purposes as well as for use as Nail Polish removers and similar other purposes for retail sale.
(ii) Banning of sale of bottled Correction Fluids as well as bottled Thinners, of any chemical composition, both for ink erasing purposes as well as for use as Nail Polish removers and similar other purposes.
(iii) Permitting sale of Correction Fluids as well as Thinners, of any chemical composition, both for ink erasing purposes as well as for use as Nail Polish removers and similar other purposes in the form of pens or similar devices which allow limited amounts of the chemicals to come out of those devices when used.
(iv) Mandatory warning should be made on the application devices (pens or otherwise) of correcting fluids / thinners regarding the effects on health on inhalation of vapor / consumption of the chemicals contained therein.
However, trying to limit access to drugs most often has little effect on those who are substance abusers. The real issue that needs to be addressed is the pain and suffering street children endure – finding resources for them so that they don’t need to address their pain with the escape they get from inhalants. Only then, will India see a real change in the number of children abusing inhalants on its streets.
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