GUWAHATI, Aug 25 – Dendrite is an adhesive used by carpenters and also for repairing punctured tyres. Erazex is a whitener fluid for correcting typing or writing errors. These contain a substance called toluene, a sweet smelling and intoxicating hydrocarbon which is neurotoxin. When these intoxicants are smeared on a piece of cloth and inhaled, the users feel euphoric (high, and experience a sense of invincibility). But they dissolve the membrane of the brain cells and causes hallucinations. These substances have, however, been increasingly used by a section of children here, both affluent and the underprivileged. According to information available with Kripa Foundation, a non-government organisation, more children are being addicted to these substances easily available in shops.
It needs to be mentioned here that Kripa Foundation has been regularly conducting de-addiction programmes for children particularly the underprivileged.
According to an official of the Foundation, as these substances are cheap and easily available in shops, they are very popular among children on the streets, school children and college students.
“Chronic health problems, early and unnatural death, and involvement in criminal activities life theft, are the impacts of the addiction,” said the official.
Social activists say that as businessmen are the key players they have to be sensitised about the magnitude of the problem and the dangers the substances pose to the health of children.
“When addicted children do not have money to procure dendrite/erazex they resort to stealing, lying and other deviant behaviours to get money,” said Father Lukose, member Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), Kamrup.
Symptoms of the addiction are abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, chemical smell on clothing, hair and breath, stain on fingers and hands, drooling and spitting, watery and bloodshot eyes, headaches and dizziness. Other signs are depression, fears, and phobias, lack of concentration, emotional withdrawals, feeling of cold, hallucinations, sudden changes in routine, trouble at school, with law, and “new” friends.
“Giving intoxicating substances to children in public places is a crime against children according to the Juvenile Justice Act 2000,” said Father Lukose.
It needs to be mentioned here that Snehalaya, a shelter home for destitute children is making an effort to give vocational training to about 15 children on the streets who are addicted to inhalants like dendrite in a unique experimental de-addiction programme consisting of counseling (with the help of Kripa Foundation), vocational training in two-wheelers and welding at Don Bosco Technical School, Maligaon and a lot of recreation.
The programme was launched officially on August 16 and will continue for three months.
All these children are in the age group of 15 to 18 and most of them stay in shanties below the Pan Bazar flyover.