As we sail through the 21st century, one of the biggest menaces that we turn to face is that of drug abuse. With spreading awareness, most of our youth are now familiar with names such as Heroin, Cocaine, Brown Sugar, and LSD. These, we have all been warned against. Parents, perhaps keenly, watch teenagers and are somewhat acquainted with the symptoms of these addictions.

But what about the drugs that are present within our households? Who monitors their use and abuse? My endeavor is to point towards the low profile drugs that have flooded the market and have become immensely popular with the youngsters of this decade. The pharmaceutical drugs are just as addictive and lethal as any other. Or have we forgotten?  The age bracket of pharma drug addicts ranges from seventeen years to over forty. Spasmodic pain killers are among the most common drugs thus abused. 4 to 5 pills consumed together produce an immediate heightening of senses followed by a wave of euphoria resulting from excess secretion of dopamine in the brain. The high usually ends with a soporific dullness of mind followed by deep sleep. Prolonged abuse causes speech difficulty, nerve disorders leading to seizures, stomach ulcers and finally renal problems. Other drugs commonly used as sedatives when consumed in a dosage of 3 or 4 induce hyperactivity, euphoria followed by deep sleep. Long time usage causes speech difficulty, short term memory loss, amnesia, and in some cases and nervous disorders. Codeine Phosphate in common cough syrups when digested produces morphine –  the result being a dull morphine stupor. Long term use causes gastric ulcer, renal problems, and erectile dysfunctions. The question that we must now answer is – why are such drugs available over the counter despite being known causes for large scale addiction? While on paper most of these drugs are prescription drugs, seldom do pharmacists across India check the prescriptions before handing them out.

Recently, the West Bengal Drug Control Authority created a big fuss over the discounts given on medicines in most medical shops of the state. A law was passed that prohibited discounts from being given. It is, however, imperative that the state Drug Control Authority take a closer look at the scenario and ban such pharmaceutical drug abuse aiding practices. To sell Schedule H drugs without the prescription of a registered medical practitioner should classify as a greater offense. Is the Narcotics Department of our country unaware of this situation?  I think not, but banning such drugs as would also mean messing with pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Sun Pharmaceuticals! We are currently choosing to simply look the other way and classify the practice as collateral damage. Damage is damage and especially when it is to the youth of our country.

In all fairness, the issue is such that only the government cannot be blamed for this mass scale pharmaceutical abuse. Government has now some awareness about this hidden menace. They have proved that by ostracizing the manufacture of Ephedrine successfully. Ephedrine was a performance enhancement drug made popular by Ben Johnson and Diego Maradona and was sold dime a dozen in various forms in the medical shops. Public awareness and governmental action are both necessary in killing this menace.