* Ramesh Joshi (name changed),a 33-year-old construction management professional has been consuming gutkha for 14 years. Having started consuming it in a small quantity at the age of 17,he eventually increased it to 40 pouches a day.
When he once tried to quit gutkha,he turned into a chain-smoker.
* Praveen Pradhan,a 28-year-old executive working with a multinational firm in the city,is addicted to gutkha since the age of 16. Pradhan started consuming two to five packets a day when he was a teenager,which later increased to 20 pouches.
After the state government imposed a blanket ban on gutkha from September 11,Joshi found it difficult to do without it and the craving led him to a de-addiction centre.
Similarly for Pradhan,the thought of having to completely give up gutkha due to unavailability of the product created a sense of panic and he was affected by a feeling of anger,unrest and lack of hunger.
He also called up a de-addiction centre.
I started consuming gutkha as a teenager,and now,at 33,I am struggling to quit the addiction,for which I am undergoing a therapy. From one pouch in a day,I started consuming 40 pouches,and when I tried to quit it,I found myself smoking 20-30 cigarettes a day, Joshi recalled.
I am undergoing 4-5 hours of daily therapy during which,among other things,I am explained the negative effect of gutkha basically psychotherapy treatment. My dependence on gutkha has come down but the treatment continues,and I consult doctor immediately after I feel like consuming the product, he said.
We have received as many as 26 cases since the government banned gutkha. Most addicts are in the age group of 25-40 years.
Most of them got addicted as teenagers, said city-based psychiatrist Dr Yogesh Patel.
Unlike alcohol,gutkha addiction is psychological,he said,adding,Alcohol dependence is more of physical,while gutkha addiction is 99 per cent mental,so it can be cured through therapy.
Anti-tobacco activist Anant Christian,who runs NGO Faith Foundation in Vadodara and a de-addiction centre,said he had received over 100 inquiries since the ban on gutkha came into effect.
More than 40 people have visited our clinic so far since the ban came into effect. They are panicked,but many are glad that the ban on the product will help them quit the addiction, he said.
As per the World Health Organisations Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) released in October 2010,around 1.3 crore people consumed gutkha in Gujarat alone.