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Media Articles - 2000s

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3 December 2002
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Cocaine Takes City On A New High

The Times of India
February 8, 2002

MUMBAI: Cocaine culture is reportedly taking over the city. Prices have been halved over the past six months from Rs 3,000 per gram to Rs 1,500 and the quality of the powder has improved.

In fact, there isn't even need to patronise seedy peddlars in dark streets. A dial-a-vial system ensures that the drug will be supplied at a customer's doorstep within 15 minutes of placing the order.

Drug rehabilitation organisations are concerned at the trend. They say that the cocaine glut has got many college-going youngsters hooked on the narcotic. While earlier, Mumbai's cocaine addicts could be counted on the fingers, there are an estimated 10,000 users today," said Dr Yusuf Merchant of the Drug Abuse Information Rehabilitation and Research Centre at a press conference on Wednesday.

Dr Merchant said that the drug is now entering the country through Pakistan, already an established route for smuggling in heroin. Previously, cocaine entered the country mainly through Africa and was smuggled in by individuals who swallowed parcels of the drug. The supply was thus limited," he said. Now, because the Pakistan route is being used, it is coming in trucks and other vehicles."

He said that the quality of cocaine available in Mumbai proved that the drug came from Pakistan. Our theory is that terrorist outfits are pumping the drug into the country. It is part of the larger narco-terrorism," Dr Merchant said.

He noted that in sharp contrast to narcotics like heroin that were considered downmarket, using cocaine is thought to be hip. Parties where hosts dispense cocaine as freely as Scotch are considered the most happening in the city," he claimed.

While in the past, cocaine was a recreational drug mainly for students who had returned from the U.S., it is now within very easy reach of our own undergraduates," Dr Merchant said. And this could lead to several other problems, such as rise in sexual promiscuity and thereby further spread of AIDS." Cocaine is believed to increase the sex drive.

A U.S.-based organisation called Narconon International, whose representatives were present at the meeting on Wednesday, has offered to train Indian doctors and activists to deal with rehabilitating cocaine addicts. The organisation employs a no-drug therapy, liberally using mineral and vitamin supplements for its rehabilitation programmes, said Narconon president Clark Carr.

Over the next week, Narconon members will conduct workshops on drug abuse at several city colleges, including Nirmala Niketam, St Xavier's, Wilson and Khalsa. They will also interact with doctors of municipal hospitals. Narconon will shortly set up its own rehabilitation centre in the city, Carr said.