New Delhi: When the doctors across the country are busy is handling the coronavirus cases, a new challenge has appeared before them. Amid the 21-day nationwide lockdown, which began on March 25, the doctors have witnessed a sudden surge in patients facing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
In most part of the country, liquor shops have been closed temporarily as soon as a national lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24, in order to contain the further spread of novel coronavirus in the country.
The lockdown has particularly affecting those who are addicted to consumption of liquor or any other drug. Hence, due to the non-availability of such addicts, many have attempted or have committed suicide across the country.
Kerala, which has reported seven suicides due to non-availability of liquor in first 100-hour of lockdown, has resorted to novel ‘parchi system’ as a measure to make liquor available to people amidst the lockdown. In this ‘parchi system’, the liquor can be bought by showing special prescription issued by the doctors only to people facing severe withdrawal symptoms. Such a step has been taken by Kerala government to deal with the rising cases of mental health problem due to lack of alcoholic.
“A total of seven people from Thrissur, Kochi, Kannur, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram committed suicide due to lack of liquor at the time of lockdown,” police said.
A 46-year-old man on Sunday jumped from a building due to withdrawal symptoms and is undergoing treatment at a Kottayam-based government hospital.
Another man named Noushad from Kayamkulam on Saturday killed himself after consuming shaving lotion due to unavailability of alcohol.
Similarly, in Telangana, around 10 people died due to non-availability of liquor in the state as all liquor shops are closed due to lockdown.
In the state, a 40-year-old labourer ended his life allegedly after holding a live electric wire in Ranga Reddy district’s Kothur area as he too was facing mental health problems due to lack of alcohol. While some committed suicide by either jumping off from the building or slitting their throat.
Besides this, at least 300 have been recently admitted at the Institute of Mental Health in Hyderabad, due to withdrawal symptoms. As per information received, a few had resorted of having concoctions with hooch which led to the severe damage to their nervous system.
“In normal days, around 50 patients visit the hospital for consultations but now, during this lockdown period, the number has increased to 200 per day. We have started facing shortage of beds in hospital to admit such patients,” Uma Shankar, Health Superintendent, Institute of Mental Health, said.
Such horrific scenes were also came to fore from other states as well. In Assam’s Jorhat, two people died after consuming industrial chemicals with soft drinks and water. Other three persons who also consumed chemicals are undergoing treatment in Jorhat hospitals and their conditions are said to be critical.
In Karnataka, seven deaths have been reported in seven continuous days due to the same reason.
After coming across this situation in the country, de-addiction health experts have warned of more such deaths during the lockdown period as people are not being able to control their urge for consuming alcohol. It is also feared that this alarming situation may also give rise to smuggling of liquor and hooch.
Karnataka government earns over Rs 20,000 crore a year from liquor sale. In that case, the state government’s revenue has also faced a hit.
The drug withdrawal symptoms may include difficulty in sleeping, tremors, increased sweating, palpitations, headache, stomach being upset, poor appetite, anxiety, irritability, restlessness and severe craving i.e. an irresistible urge to consume alcohol.
Using tobacco and drinking alcohol to cope with boredom during the coronavirus lockdown can affect immunity as well as mental health, the Union Health Ministry had said on Tuesday, amid rising cases of the novel coronavirus.