New Delhi: A new government report looking at the extent of substance abuse in India found that at least 57 million Indians (5.2% of the population) are dependent on alcohol and need treatment for alcohol abuse.
The report also looks at dependency on other substances. It estimates that 7.2 million Indians need treatment for their cannabis dependency, 6 million for opioid dependency and another 4 million need help for their dependency on inhalants, sedatives, amphetamine type stimulants, hallucinogens and cocaine.
Alcohol abuse is the biggest problem here: India has an estimated 160 million users of alcohol, according to the survey. This adds up to 14.6% of the Indian population. About 5.2% of the Indian population is in need of treatment for alcohol dependence. Every third alcohol user in the country is abusing alcohol and needs treatment for their addiction.
But only one in 38 people with alcohol dependency are reportedly getting any treatment for it.
Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of alcohol users (42 million), followed by West Bengal (14 million) and Madhya Pradesh (12 million).
The states showing the highest number of alcohol-related problems are Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and prepared by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre at AIIMS. It was reported by the Times of India.
The methodology included a household survey of people between the ages of 10 and 75. Over 2 lakh houses were visited across all states and union territories. Previously, a pan-India survey with state-wise data was released in 2004, but this report is more comprehensive.
Gender dynamics of alcohol consumption
There is a clear gender division in the number of alcohol users. About 27.3% of all men and 1.6% of women are estimated to be alcohol users. The survey says that 6.4% of women who use alcohol are dependent on it.
Some states are worse off than others in terms of alcohol consumption among males. More than half the male populations of Chhattisgarh, Tripura and Punjab are estimated to be alcohol users.
Other substances being abused
The survey also collected some data on children affected by substance abuse. About 4.6 lakh children are estimated to need treatment for their inhalant and sedative dependencies. Inhalants is the only category of substance abuse where the use among children and adolescents (1.17%) is higher than for adults (0.58%).
Cannabis use in the forms of bhang, ganja and charas is particularly high in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.
Overall, about 2.8% of Indians use cannabis and 0.66% need help with cannabis abuse.
Seen state-wise, about 28 lakh people in UP need help for their cannabis addiction, followed by 5.7 lakh in Punjab and 4.9 lakh in Odisha. Disorders linked to cannabis use have peaked in Sikkim and Punjab, where the prevalence of these disorders is more than thrice the national average.