Queensland: Opioid poppies found in illegal grocery kamini
A herbal product containing highly addictive opioids is being sold under the counter in grocery stores, prompting an urgent warning from health experts.
An illegal herbal product is responsible for hospitalizing some Queenslanders for opioid addiction with the substance sold under the counter in Brisbane grocery stores.
Kamini, commonly known by the street name “Kamini balls”, is an illegal Indian import containing highly addictive opioids, often unknown to the consumers who purchase them.
According to the researchers, the balls, which are partly made from opium poppy, are often mistaken for aphrodisiacs – a food or drug that increases sexual performance.
Metro North Mental Health Alcohol and Drug Service medical director Jeremy Hayllar said 12 patients were treated for opioid use disorder from the product after patients sought help for pull back as prices soar post-pandemic.
“The feedback from patients who have been treated in addiction services is that they bought kamini because they heard it improved their energy levels and helped them work longer.” he said.
“There is a misconception that it is an aphrodisiac, in fact it is likely to have the opposite effect.
“It seems that people are unaware of the dangers of kamini addiction and have been shocked by their withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, diarrhea, runny nose, poor sleep.”
He said some patients struggle to control their drinking for months before seeking professional help, raising concerns the problem is more widespread than it appears.
Kamini is packaged in small glass bottles, which contain plant products in the form of 40 brownish balls.
During the pandemic, illegal traders sold bottles for $130, but due to a supply problem the cost rose to $180, making it less accessible for residents who could buy up to four bottles a week and who are already addicted.
In extreme cases, some users were ingesting up to 30 scoops a day, which is equivalent to taking 60mg of OxyContin – a drug intended to be used for severe pain but notorious for America’s opioid crisis.
“Once this brain receptor gets its daily feed, if you will, if you try to take it away, the brain protests really loudly.” says Dr. Hayllar.
“It’s something people get stuck in and struggle to get out of,”
According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), importation into Australia is prohibited.
“These tablets pose a serious risk to your health and should not be taken,” the regulator said.
Queensland health experts documented their findings on kamini addiction in a study published on Friday.
“I speak out to warn of the dangers of kamini and encourage people to seek treatment,” Dr Hallyar said.
“We would like to see a crackdown on the sale of illegal products under the counter in Queensland.”
“We know that cheap cigarettes and vaping products are also readily available.”