Alcoholism among children highest in Punjab, finds study

NEW DELHI:More than half of Punjabi men drink alcohol and the state also houses the highest proportion of children consuming psychoactive substance.

ROBINSINGH@TRIBUNE.COM

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 22

More than half of Punjabi men drink alcohol and the state also houses the highest proportion of children consuming psychoactive substance.

The proportion of children hooked on alcohol in Punjab is thrice the national average, the government study on drug extent and prevalence in India has shown.

State-wise details of the survey were made public by the Social Justice Ministry today. The data show that a high proportion of children have reported alcohol use (more than thrice the national average) in Punjab (6 per cent) followed by West Bengal (3.9 per cent) and Maharashtra (3.8 per cent).

“This is a highly disturbing trend and needs immediate government intervention,” Head of AIIMS National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre Dr Atul Ambekar told The Tribune.

Punjab also has the highest proportion of cannabis users in the country. While the all-India average of current use of cannabis among 10 to 75 year olds is 2.83 per cent, the corresponding average is 12.55 per cent in Punjab, followed by Sikkim and Delhi.

Experts say there is considerable heterogeneity regarding prevalence of alcohol use in the country and the states with high prevalence of alcohol use are Chhattisgarh (35.6 per cent), Tripura (34.7 per cent) and Punjab (28.5 per cent).

“More than half the male population of Chhattisgarh, Tripura and Punjab uses alcohol,” Dr Ambekar says.

Finer details of the study reveal that Indians are heavy drinkers. That’s evident from the choice of beverage—high-concentration products are preferred over low-concentration ones—as well as from the amount of alcohol consumed on a single occasion.

“Around half (43 per cent) of alcohol users in India consume more than four drinks on a single occasion indicating heavy episodic drinking. A fair proportion of alcohol users experience indicators of problematic consumption like getting involved in physical fights after drinking (26.8 per cent), day time consumption of alcohol (21.2 per cent) and road traffic accidents under the influence of alcohol (4.1 per cent),” the survey findings show.

At the national level, about 2.7 per cent of population (2.9 crore individuals) have alcohol dependence. States with the highest prevalence of alcohol dependence are Tripura (13.7 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (7.2 per cent) and Punjab (6 per cent).


Current users

Alcohol: India 14.6%; Chhattisgarh 35.6%; Tripura 34.7%; Punjab 28.5%

Cannabis: India 2.83%; Punjab 12.55%; Sikkim 10.94%, Delhi 8.12%

Opioid: India 2.06%; Mizoram 25.67%, Nagaland 25.22%, Arunachal 22.18%, Sikkim 18.74%, Punjab 9.79%

Cocaine: India 0.10%; Daman and Diu 1.38%, Punjab 0.66%, Lakshadweep 0.63%

(10-to-74-year-old who consumed a drug at least once in last 12 months)

Cities

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