Patna: Two months after the Nitish Kumar government imposed prohibition, de-addiction centres started filling up in Bihar. Some of the patients are children aged 10-15. Almost all of the patients are alcoholics who switched to other forms of intoxication more dangerous than alcohol, since the law came in. Most of them are hooked to an array of substances: injectable drugs, particularly Fortwin, adhesives, footwear soles, glue, whiteners, cough syrups, bhang, ganja, hashish, etc.
Says Tara, mother of Lallan Kumar, a patient in a de-addiction ward in Nalanda Hospital: “After the ban, he became irritable. A doctor said it was a withdrawal symptom and that he will be alright. A few weeks later, his behaviour turned strange. Sometimes he would just lie unconscious. I found an injection in his pocket and then we noticed needle pricks on his hand.”
Is prohibition good? “Women forced the CM into it. It’s good, but the government has to do something to prevent people from getting addicted to other more dangerous things,’’ says Tara.
For a few weeks after prohibition was imposed, hooch was available in some villages in Nalanda, Nitish Kumar’s district. Distillers stocked the hooch underground, but the police and excise cracked down. Hooch supply stopped, but ganja, injections, glues and adhesives were easily available. A Fortwin injection costs `7. These children were taking 15-20 injections per day and became used to a combination of drugs. Says Dr Rajkishore Singh, the medical officer in-charge of the de-addiction unit at Nalanda Hospital: “This is Bihar. It is not at all surprising how they are able to lay their hands on prescription drugs. There could be a mafia.’’
“We have been seizing ganja. It is not correct to say that ganja is freely available in the state,’’ says Om Prakash Mandal, assistant commissioner of the excise department.