Every 3rd alcohol user in India needs help: Reports

In Karnataka, the percentage of alcohol users at 6.4%
Last Updated 18 February 2019, 17:50 IST

Every third alcohol user in India needs “help” and about 16 crore people in the age bracket 10 to 70 years consume liquor, according to a government-sponsored study on the prevalence and extent of “substance use”.

While the prevalence of alcohol consumption is 17 times higher among men than women, more than 5.7 crore people are estimated to be affected by “harmful or dependent alcohol use,” the report, released by Union minister for social justice and empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot here on Monday, noted.

“In other words, every third alcohol user in India needs help for alcohol-related problems. For every one woman consuming alcohol, there are 17 alcohol using men,” it added.

The study observed “substantial” inter-state variations in the prevalence of alcohol use, placing Chhattisgarh at the top of the list of States with high prevalence of alcohol use.

Goa at bottom!

An estimated 35.6% people in Naxal-hit Chhattisgarh were found to be consuming alcohol, 34.7% in Tripura, 28.5% in Punjab, 28% in Arunachal Pradesh and 26.4% in Goa.

In Karnataka, the percentage of alcohol users at 6.4%, is much lower than the national average of 14.6%.

“States with high prevalence - more than 10% of alcohol use disorders - are Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh,” the report noted.

To collect data, the study team conducted household surveys across all 36 states and union territories between December 2017 and October 2018.

The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi led the technical and scientific aspects of the survey methodology in collaboration with ten other medical institutes. A network of 15 non-government organisations was also involved in data collection from each of the states and UTs.

Common substances

After alcohol, cannabis and opioids were found to be next commonly used substance by people.

While about 2.2 crore people (about 2%) were found to be users of bhang, the number of people smoking ganja and charas across the country was pegged at 1.3 crore (about 1.2%).

“At the national level, the most common opioid used is Heroin with 1.14% people taking it, followed by Pharmaceutical opioids (0.96%) and Opium (0.52%),” the report noted.

While 2.06% people were found to be using opioids in the country, about 0.55% (60 lakh) of the users of the banned substances were in need of help for related problems.

Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi are the top States in terms of percentage of population affected.

Young at risk

The report said that estimated 1.18 crore people (1.08%) take sedatives and inhalants, flagging concerns over high prevalence of the use of inhalants among youngsters.

“At the national level, an estimated 4.6 lakh children and 18 lakh adults need help for inhalant use. Inhalants are the only category of substances for which the prevalence of current use among children and adolescents is higher (1.17%) than adults (0.58%),” the report said.

While about 8.5 lakh people inject drugs, 10.7 lakh people take cocaine.

“States with sizable estimated approximate numbers of current cocaine users are Maharashtra (90,000), Punjab (27,000), Rajasthan (10,000) and Karnataka (8,000),” the report said.

(Published 18 February 2019, 17:29 IST)

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