16 crore people consume alcohol in India; here’s how many need urgent medical help

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Updated: February 18, 2019 10:20 PM

The household survey covered nearly 5 lakh people in over 2 lakh households in 186 districts of the country, and its findings were combined with respondent driven survey covering over 70,000 people in 123 districts to assess the use of illicit drugs.

According to a survey conducted by AIIMS, Delhi, there are 5.7 crore people in the country that are addicted to alcohol.

India is home to six crore alcohol addicts, more than the population of 172 world nations including Italy. Alcoholism is a condition that requires medical attention, but unfortunately only less than 3% of the people with drinking problem get any treatment.

To make matters worse there is a large number of people in the country addicted to various drugs. More than 3.1 crore Indians (2.8%) have reported using cannabis products, Bhang, Ganja, Charas, Heroin and Opium, in last one year. 72 lakh of these drug users are addicted to them and unfortunately only one in 20 drug addicts gets treatment at a hospital.

“Nearly one in five alcohol user suffers from dependence and needs urgent treatment,” said the survey conducted by AIIMS, Delhi, pegging the number of people who need urgent treatment at around 3.2 crore people of total 5.7 crore people considered to be alcohol addicts.

According the Magnitude of Substance Use in India survey conducted by National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of AIIMS, there are 16 crore people in the country that have reported consuming alcohol. The consumption level is very high among the male population as for every woman who consumes alcohol there are 17 men who consume liquor. In other words, 1.6% women and 27.3% men in the country use alcohol.

Country made liquors (Desi Sharab) rules the market

According to the survey Country liqour (Desi Sharab) accounts for 30% of the total liquor consumption, and Indian made foreign liquor (spirits) also account for the same amount. Combined share of these two varieties account for 60% of the total liquor consumption in the country.

Other drugs consumed by Indians

There are other drugs like Cannabis (Bhang, Ganja & Charas), Opioid drugs like Heroin, Opium and other pharmaceutical drugs, then there are inhalants, non-medical and non prescription based drugs that are consumed by 3.1 crore Indians.

Cannabis (Bhang, Ganja & Charas)

According to the survey, over 3.1 crore Indians (2.8%) reported to have used any cannabis product in last one year: Bhang some 2.2 crore people, Ganja or Charas some 1.3 crore people and some 72 lakh individuals need help with their addiction of cannabis.

Although, the usage of Bhang use is more common than Ganja or Charas but in case of addiction, the number of dependent users is higher for addicts of Ganja and Charas. Cannabis consumption is higher than the national average in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.

In Punjab and Sikkim, the prevalence of cannabis use disorders is considerably higher (more than thrice) than the national average.

Heroin, Opium (Afeem) & others

At the national level, Heroin is most commonly used substance followed by pharmaceutical opioids, followed by opium (Afeem). However, in case of harmful dependence, more people are dependent on Heroin than other similar drugs like Afeem.

Of the total 60 lakh users of Heroin and Afeem, majority of them are from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

Sedatives and inhalants

Less than 1% or nearly 1.18 crore people use sedatives, non medical or non prescription use. However, what is more worrying that its prevalence is high among children and adolescents. At national level, there are 4.6 lakh children that need help against the harmful or dependence over inhalants. This problem of addiction of children is more prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana.

Cocaine (0.10%) Amphetamine Type Stimulants (0.18%) and Hallucinogens (0.12%) are the categories with lowest prevalence of current use in the country.

Addicts who inject drugs

According to the survey, there are 8.5 lakh people in the country who inject drugs (PWID). Users of opium based drugs report high incidence of injecting drugs (heroin 46% and pharmaceutical opioids 46%), a large number of these drug users report risky injecting practices. This risky practice more prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Manipur and Nagaland.

Access to treatment

In general, access to treatment services for drug or alcohol addicts are grossly inadequate. Only one person in 38 alcohol addicts have reported getting any treatment and one in 180 addicts have reported getting inpatient treatment at a hospital. And only one in 20 drug addicts have reported receiving hospitalization or in patient treatment for drug addiction.

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Largest ever survey conducted on the problem

The Magnitude of Substance Use in India survey was conducted by National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) under the AIIMS, Delhi. The survey which was sponsored by the ministry of social justice and empowerment covered general population (10-75 years), in all the 36 states and union territories covering over 2 lakh households and 4.73 lakh people in 186 districts of the country. Then its findings were combined with other survey respondent driven sampling which was conducted in 123 districts covering over 70,000 people suffering from dependence on illicit drugs.

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