Sleeping pill abuse on the rise

SINGAPORE – Dormicum is one tablet that appears to be giving regulators a giant headache.

The sedative is a part of the benzodiazepine household, sometimes prescribed to ease insomnia or anxiousness assaults.

Nevertheless it has been hogging headlines lately for the incorrect causes.

The sleeping tablet – listed below the Poisons Act – was allegedly utilized by the Fb rapist to sedate his victims earlier than he attacked them.

Referred to as a date-rape drug abroad, it could actually trigger reminiscence loss and is used to commit intercourse crimes in locations like Thailand.

For nearly 10 years now, Dormicum has gained favour amongst heroin and Subutex abusers. It is simple to see why.

It may be purchased and consumed legally – so long as you may have a prescription. It retails at about $2 a tablet. On the black market, it sells for $7 to $9 every.

In distinction, a 0.2g straw of heroin instructions $50.

Former addict Johnny Chin, 38, stated: “It was straightforward to get Dormicum from normal practitioners (GPs). I’d lie about working abroad and needing extra tablets. Some docs did not even ask any questions.”

The previous secret society gang member used to inject a cocktail of medicine as much as 15 occasions a day.

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Utilizing Dormicum enhanced the excessive, he claimed. “At the moment (2006), it was the pattern to take heroine and Subutex. Likelihood is, you may additionally take Dormicum.”

Abusers are recognized to combine Dormicum with Subutex earlier than injecting the compound into their our bodies. His dependancy grew to become so unhealthy, his veins collapsed.

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“So I ended up standing in entrance of the mirror, making an attempt to inject the drug into my neck,” he recalled.

Patchy historical past

Mr Chin’s story provides to Singapore’s patchy historical past with hypnotics like benzodiazepines and barbiturates (sleep-inducing tranquilisers).

Whereas helpful in treating many diseases, their potential for abuse is troubling.

For example, barbiturates have been popularly used to deal with insomnia and anxiousness within the 60s.

However a slight overdose will be deadly: Hollywood intercourse siren Marilyn Monroe died from acute barbiturate poisoning in 1962.

Barbiturates fell out of favour after benzodiazepines have been launched within the 70s.

One other instance is the sedative nimetazepam or Erimin-5. Abusers typically combine it with Subutex to exchange their heroin repair.

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To stop abuse, the Well being Ministry (MOH) included nimetazepam as a managed drug below the Misuse of Medication Act in 1992.


Then, there’s Subutex.

Used to wean addicts off heroin, Subutex grew to become such a broadly abused downside that the authorities banned it in 2006.

Given the chequered previous, MOH is trying into increasing the Central Drug Prescribing Registry (CDPR) to observe benzodiazepines.

It tightened pointers in 2008, so docs have to take care of detailed data on why the medicine have been disbursed – and alert the ministry if they believe a affected person is hooked on a benzodiazepine. Are these steps sufficient? Or are tighter legal guidelines wanted?

Mr Lionel de Souza, 70, stated: “It would not matter what the legal guidelines are. Addicts will at all times discover loopholes to abuse medicine.”

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The retired police officer, who spent 23 years dealing with drug busts, added: “The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) and front-line companies are doing an excellent job to verify the provision.

“The Authorities can also be doing an excellent job in bringing errant docs (who prescribe the medicine) to activity.”

A CNB spokesman stated the bureau “has been working intently with the Well being Sciences Authority to share data on suspected Dormicum abusers and actions”.

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From final yr to this June, there have been three main joint operations towards illicit drug actions, he added.

The United Nations Workplace on Medication and Crime stated in final November’s regional state of affairs annual report that Singapore’s drug risk has been contained, “largely (resulting from) intensive legislation enforcement efforts and strict legal guidelines towards drug trafficking and consumption”.

Psychiatrist Dr Munidasa Winslow, too, doesn’t see the (benzodiazepine) downside going uncontrolled.

“Much less folks (are) looking for assist for dependence on hypnotics than earlier than… (GPs) are much more cautious as of late as they’re extra conscious of the potential pitfalls of administering hypnotic medicines.

“I perceive that many clinics don’t even carry hypnotics of their dispensaries.”

Apart from educating docs on dependancy medication, maybe the secret is “to pay attention to the risks, and put in place insurance policies from the start to stop abuse,” Dr Winslow added.


Nationwide Addictions Administration Service (Nams): 6-RECOVER (6732 6837) / For extra data, go to

The New Charis Mission: 6483 3707

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