The seizure of illegal drug Phensedyl has marked a significant rise in recent times, posing a serious threat to the country's young generation.
The unexpected growth of illegal codeine-based cough syrup in the seizure list indicates that the consumption of the once-dominated contraband drug is also on the rise.
Officials at the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) said the use of Phensedyl remained almost static until 2016 due to strict vigilance over the routes being used to take the drug to the major market--Dhaka.
Since then, the seizure of the bottled drug has slowly been increasing. "Now we have seen a significant increase in Phensedyl abuse again," an official of DNC (intelligence and operations) told the FE.
Seeing the current upward trend, he said, they intensified their vigilance on the Phensedyl selling spots in the city as they have information that drug dealers are concentrating more on smuggling of that drug after Yaba.
According to the statistics on the seizure of Phensedyl by all agencies across Bangladesh, the security agencies seized 566,525 bottles in 2016. The figure was 720,843 in 2017, 715,529 in 2018 and 976,663 in 2019.
Now the volume rose to 1,007,977 in 2020. DNC officials think that the number would be much higher in the current year.
From mid-90s to early this decade, Phensedyl has been one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in Bangladesh. Due to its addictive nature, it was made illegal in the country by Drug Ordinance-1982.
Currently, the main source of the contraband syrup is India where it is legally produced and used as a drug for treatment of cough.
There is no specific statistics about the market of the codeine-based cough syrup. No organisation has ever conducted a nationwide survey to know the extent of financial involvement and impact of drug use on the society.
DNC director Kusum Dewan said smugglers usually prefer routes in the western and eastern borders to smuggle Phensedyl into the country.
He said Phensedyl, a class narcotic liquid, is smuggled into Bangladesh by buses and trucks packed with different baggage and luggage. Drugs are also smuggled into the country by ships and fishing trawlers.
"We have stepped up our vigilance on Phensedyl-carrying routes and over the listed drug dealers to protect our youths from being spoiled," he added.
Central Drug Addiction Treatment Centre is the largest public hospital for drug addicts of the country where nearly 20 per cent patients have close links with the Phensedyl use.