Illegal Kamini opioid sold ‘under the counter’ in Australian Indian grocery stores

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Desperate taxi drivers are addicted to opiates that they believe will help them work through the night to improve their sex life.

A report on the treatment of 12 drivers revealed that they were addicted to illegal kamini balls, containing morphine and codeine.

Opiates are smuggled into Australia in sacks of rice and sold under the counter to hundreds of small ethnic grocers, sources told Daily Mail Australia.

Jeremy Hayllar, clinical director of North Brisbane Alcohol and Drugs Service, said the patient in the trial, released on Friday, confirmed he purchased his medication this way.

But the use and supply of the drug, the importation and sale of which is banned in Australia, could be much broader.

‘This is a cash product with 200 times the profit [of what it costs] so every grocery store has it,’ a Brisbane man told Daily Mail Australia.

“You can get it in any Indian grocery store, but they won’t give it to any Aussie or white man.”

A report from Queensland into the treatment of 12 Brisbane carpool drivers who became involuntarily addicted after consuming illegal kamini balls, containing morphine and codeine has been published

An Ayurvedic website, Ayur Times, lists the main ingredient of Kamini Vidrawan Ras as “Papaver somniferum”, which is another name for opium poppy.

An Ayurvedic website, Ayur Times, lists the main ingredient of Kamini Vidrawan Ras as “Papaver somniferum”, which is another name for opium poppy.

He said its use was “very common” among young Southeast Asian men, including Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans.

He claimed it was smuggled into Australia in large shipments of rice and grain and distributed in grocery stores.

“Grocery stores get full containers and hide this product in bags of rice and with cereal. If they get 100 kg of rice in a container, it is easy to get two bags full of kamini,” he said.

Brisbane addicted taxi drivers have told doctors their peers have said kamini can help them stay awake longer and is also a sexual enhancer.

The patients, aged 33 on average, developed an opioid use disorder so severe that only two of them were able to completely get off the drug since starting treatment.

Men who have undergone treatment for opioid addiction

Men who have undergone treatment for opioid addiction

Lab analysis showed that on average each bullet contains 2.7mg of morphine and 1mg of codeine - which the liver converts into morphine

Lab analysis showed that on average each bullet contains 2.7mg of morphine and 1mg of codeine – which the liver converts into morphine

In one case, a driver was so desperate to get his hands on his kamini balls that he drove 50km to get more, Dr Hayllar said.

Another driver told medics the grocery store he was going to was “thriving” on kamini sales.

Dr Hayllar helped treat 12 people, 11 men and a female partner of one of the men, who required treatment in Queensland for opiate withdrawal between January 2020 and June 2021.

He said it was important to note that the patients were “all employed…all had spouses and children and were honest, contributing members of the community.”

The drug is sold as sometimes sold as Multani Kamini Vidrawan Ras balls or as Ayurvedant Kamini Vidrawan Ras tablets.

Patients treated by doctors in Brisbane said grocery stores were selling them as ‘Ayurvedic medicine’.

Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine originating in India.

An Ayurvedic website, Ayur Times, lists the main ingredient in Kamini Vidrawan Ras as ‘Papaver somniferum’, which is another name for the opium poppy – from which heroin is made.

Laboratory analysis showed that, on average, each scoop of kamini contains 2.7 mg of morphine and 1 mg of codeine – which the liver converts into morphine.

The website also claims that kamini is an aphrodisiac and is “helpful in maintaining penile erection for a long time and increases the pleasure of the act of lovemaking.”

Dr. Hayllar said some patients take up to 30 kamini balls a day. With each ball costing up to $7, it could cost a user up to $200 a day.

He said the kamini problem emerged in Brisbane in 2021.

However, when users ran out of their usual supplies due to Covid supply chain delays, they started showing up at GPs in Brisbane showing signs of severe withdrawal.

“People couldn’t get hold of it and became distressed with withdrawal and started seeking help,” Dr Hayllar said.

Withdrawal from opiates can include extreme anxiety, nausea or vomiting, muscle aches, runny nose, sneezing, diarrhea, sweating, and fever. Men can also experience spontaneous ejaculations when aroused.

There are several reports of 'under the counter' sales of opioid kamini in Southeast Asian grocery stores in several major Australian cities.

There are several reports of ‘under the counter’ sales of opioid kamini in Southeast Asian grocery stores in several major Australian cities.

Case study: opium-addicted chef

A 35-year-old man lost his job as a chef during the COVID-19 shutdown, he was driving for a ride-sharing company.

He used the kamini for 5 months, taking 5-6 balls a day, after being told by colleagues that it would give him energy to work longer hours.

He smoked 1 to 2 cigarettes a day without consuming other substances.

Stopping taking kamini caused him severe withdrawal symptoms: insomnia, pain in his limbs, feeling hot and cold, and food cravings.

He recovered with buprenorphine patches (a drug used to treat opioid use disorder).

Although he relapsed twice (the second time after losing another job), his daily intake remained at five bullets or less and he also quit smoking.

Source: Drugs and Alcohol Review, 2022.

“We spread the word and it turned out there were a number of additional cases over 18 months to two years,” Dr Hayllar said.

“When the first cases occurred, the cause was unclear, but the patients appeared to be in opioid withdrawal, but they did not appear to be using any known opioids,”

‘We thought ‘how can we explain this?’

Truckers and carpool drivers from Southeast Asia are expected to use kamini every day

Truckers and carpool drivers from Southeast Asia are expected to use kamini every day

When doctors started interviewing patients, the sources of the drugs and the larger problem became clear.

‘The [patients] sought help after stocks of the herbal drug dried up during the Covid-19 pandemic, or because they could no longer afford to feed their habit,’ the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

“All patients were treated for opioid addiction.

“Although Kamini is classified as an illegal import by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, patients have confirmed that it is readily available ‘under the counter’ in many Brisbane grocery stores.”

Dr Hayllar agreed the problem was unlikely to be confined to Brisbane.

“It is likely to be a problem in other cities as well – at least one patient has been seen in Perth, there are also cases in far north Queensland and there have been cases in Sydney and Melbourne,” he said.

Sources spoken to by Daily Mail Australia claimed that the kamini trade occurs in all major Australian cities and is based on a hidden trade in opium products distributed in hundreds of mainstream grocery stores.

Sources spoken to by Daily Mail Australia claimed that the kamini trade occurs in all major Australian cities and is based on a hidden trade in opium products distributed in hundreds of mainstream grocery stores.

Southeast Asian expat communities often view kamini as traditional medicine, not a dangerous illegal drug - but it is banned and harmful

Southeast Asian expat communities often view kamini as traditional medicine, not a dangerous illegal drug – but it is banned and harmful

“Anecdotally, we’ve been told that a lot of people use kamini.”

In 2020, the South Auckland Unit of the Auckland Opioid Treatment Service reported treating 10 men with kamini dependence.

A man contacted Daily Mail Australia to confirm: ‘I know about this drug and it is very popular in the Indian community,’ he said.

Dr Hayllar said the report was produced to raise awareness of the dangers of kamini.

Southeast Asian expatriate communities often regard kamini as traditional medicine and not as a dangerous illegal drug.

In an online Indian community group, a man from Melbourne said he thought kamini was “good for temporarily relieving pain or if you feel weak”.

“It’s actually the combination of red bull and viagra,” he said.

Another man from Melbourne claimed that “most South East Asian truckers have their own backyard cultures which they display and share with everyone with great pride”.

A Darwin commentator in a social media group said: “I had [kamini] once and I couldn’t go to the toilet for three days, I was constipated.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted several Ayurvedic medicine specialists for comment.

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