Mumbai : The recent death of a 15-year-old boy, who was given to substance abuse, has highlighted the danger that such behaviour poses to the young generation and the urgent need to address this problem.

In the recent incident, the victim, Nazish Liyakat Ali, was addicted to smelling paint thinners and had been doing it for a few years. His father had repeatedly cautioned him not to smell this chemical since this affected his health and he was not able to concentrate on his studies. But the boy, who was an SSC student, continued his habit of substance abuse and had in fact not been going to school since the last four months, the father said.

Last week, the boy went missing from his house and the family filed a complaint at Malwani police station. His body was finally found about three days ago at Aksa Beach in Malad (W). A medical examination revealed that he had drowned, though it is not confirmed yet whether it is a case of accidental or suicidal death, said an officer from Malwani police station.

Dr Shubhangi Parkar, head of psychiatry department at KEM Hospital, said that smelling such volatile substances was a common addiction among youngsters and many of them come to KEM for treatment. “Smelling these chemicals gives a feeling of high to the users and they feel relaxed when they do this,” she said. However, after a while this becomes a psychological problem and the addict is not able to function normally unless he has smelled the chemical and got the feeling of euphoria.

The psychiatrist further said that there is no proper treatment for this problem, and they mostly try to counsel the addicts to get rid of this problem. “We try to build their will power so that they do not feel the need to smell these chemicals in order to feel normal,” she pointed out.

Another psychiatrist, Dr Harshal Sathey from Sion Hospital said the person may get into the habit of smelling such substances because of some kind of stress in his mind. “There may be an issue related with some difficulty in coping with the stress of work or even study and the person may turn to such substance abuse to deal with the situation,” he said.

The chemical called ‘thinner’ contains a component called toluene and this is what causes the feeling of being relaxed. Again, this kind of problem should not be ignored and an active effort must be made to counsel the person on a regular basis and to wean him away from the habit.

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