HYDERABAD: Drug abuse among school children is on the rise, experts say, with the problem particularly acute among students in grades 8 and up.

In one such case, a 12-year-old student was recently caught consuming balm at a public school in the city. The student’s mother worried about his inability to stop him, as he also cuts his wrists.

Therapists attributed such behavior to trauma, loneliness, curiosity, peer pressure, and a disturbed state of mind. They said students aren’t afraid of being caught as they play the victim card.

While government school sources said students used substances like balms, dyes and glue to get high, private school sources said packaged chemical drugs like candy and chocolate were consumed.

VS Gideon, a drug therapist, said: “Drugs in the form of beautifully packaged caramels, candies and chocolates are sold and consumed in private schools. The students escape while a check is carried out as they look like candies.

He said children as young as 11 were addicted to these drugs and the numbers were only increasing.

Gideon cited a case in which a Class 8 student at a private school was addicted to gas sniffing. “It all started when she added a few drops to her handkerchief and started sniffing it. The 12-year-old said that sniffing gasoline made her feel lighter, went into a whole colorful new world and had enjoyed the journey,” Gideon said.

A source said students had also been caught smoking substances like hookah on school premises in some cases. “Several students who are on their own get together and are curious to try such substances, which becomes addictive,” the source said.

Public school teachers said their students’ mental health was affected due to the financial constraints their families face, as they lack an emotional connection to their family members. Additionally, the lack of counselors in public schools is also an issue, they said.

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