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Drug overdose killed 45, confirm forensics

Chandigarh, August 2: Drug overdose led to the recent spate of deaths of addicts in Punjab, forensic reports have confirmed.

According to reports of 45 viscera samples, morphine overdose has been identified as the killer in 80 per cent of the cases. All deaths related to opioids are classified under morphine. Overdose of pain relievers and de-addiction medicines also proved fatal.

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During the last two months, Punjab has been rattled by reports of deaths of drug addicts. The Tribune had reported last month that, on an average, one person had died everyday due to drug overdose.

As per the new standard procedure, the district police and health authorities have to send viscera sample in each suspected drug overdose death to the State Chemical Testing Laboratory in Kharar.

The spurt in deaths forced the laboratory to investigate the pending samples as well. Reports of 65 samples are still awaited.

Overdose of benzodiazepine — a psycho-active drug used for de-addiction — was found to have caused 13 per cent deaths. Opioid-based pain reliever tramadol was responsible for 5 per cent deaths. There were a few deaths owing to high-end substances like cocaine.

For reasons unexplained, drug overdose deaths saw a sudden jump in May in Punjab. Whereas in April, six such deaths were reported, the number rose to 13 in May and 17 in June. Since July 1, there has been one such death every day.

The state government has all along been downplaying the deaths. The Health and Family Welfare Department does not maintain data on the casualties. Of the addicts who lost their lives recently, 83 per cent were below 30 years of age and around 10 per cent below 20.

Source Tribune India

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