New Drug and Alcohol Report Highlights India’s Addiction Issues

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A shocking one in every seven Indians is an alcohol consumer, making alcohol the most used addictive substance in the country followed by cannabis, opioids, sedatives and inhalants, reports the Tribune.

A national survey on the extent of drug abuse in India, which was conducted by AIIMS-New Delhi, has revealed that 14.6 per cent (16 crore) Indians aged 10 to 75 years are ‘current users’ (have had it at least once in the past 12 months) of alcohol. One in five of these consumers is an addict and requires urgent treatment.

The survey is the first in 15 years to give state-level estimates of drug abuse. The exact state-wise prevalence will be published tomorrow, but study lead investigators told The Tribune that Punjab was among the top five states with the highest prevalence of substance abuse across drug categories.

The national prevalence of current use of alcohol is the highest for all drug categories at 14.6 per cent with 17 men consuming alcohol for every one woman.

Other most abused substances are cannabis (current prevalence rate 2.8 per cent), opiods at 2.06 per cent and sedatives at 1.08 per cent.

States with the highest prevalence of alcohol use are Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh and Goa.

Dr Atul Ambekar, report principal investigator and head of AIIMS National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, which conducted the study for the Social Justice Ministry, said, “Total cannabis users in India are around three crore. Of them, 2 per cent are ‘bhang’ users and 1.2 per cent use ‘charas’ and ‘ganja’, which are illegal. The states with higher than national prevalence of cannabis are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.”

Among opioids, heroin is the most abused, followed by pharmaceutical opioids and opium. The survey says of the total estimated 60 lakh people with opioid disorders in India, half are contributed by Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

The states with the highest population on sedative use are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. About Punjab, Dr Ambekar said, “Not all drug abuse in Punjab can be attributed to cross-border challenges. Most drugs being abused are locally available. This needs to be addressed.”

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