Sun, Oct 09, 2016 - Page 3 News List

‘Poisonous’ drug beverage cases on the rise: physician

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The number of cases of illegal drugs hidden inside instant coffee and milk tea bags, which police surmise is to attract young people to use them, has been increasing over the past two years, Taipei City Hospital physician Chen Liang-yu (陳亮妤) said.

Chen, director of the Department of Addiction Science at the hospital’s Songde branch, said the media have in recent years often reported about crackdowns on illegal drugs in “poisonous coffee” or “poisonous milk tea,” adding that the number of outpatient cases for this type of drug addiction has increased over the past two years.

She said such so-called “poisonous” drinks are usually a mixture of various illegal drugs — including ketamine, amphetamines, ecstacy, “bath salts,” ethylone or other new types of drugs — packed into coffee or milk tea packets.

As these drugs are relatively cheaper and more convenient to market online, many people who used to take ketamine or club drugs have turned to them, Chen said, adding that most users are unaware of what substances are included in the mix.

“The health risks involved with these drugs is not lower than that of first-grade controlled substances,” she said, citing clinical observations that found many people who used such drugs exhibited hallucinations, irritation, an accelerated heartbeat and symptoms of delusional disorders, while some even became aggressive and attacked family members.

In one case, a middle-aged man was taken to a hospital by his wife because of a delusion that his wife and a telecom company were trying to cause him harm, leading him to verbally threaten his wife, Chen said.

Another man carried a knife with him everywhere, because he felt he was being persecuted, Chen added.

Treatment can be complicated due to various mixes of drugs, she said, but added that medical attention from specialists can help people recover from addiction and resume healthy lives.

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