A study,conducted by doctors of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research(PGIMER),has claimed that drug abuse has increased among youngsters in the 16-25 age group. Data gathered by researchers over a period of three decades,from 1978 to 2008,shows that while 22 per cent of the patients in the first decade (1978-88) belonged to the 16-25 years age group,the percentage went up to 31.5 per cent in the third decade (1999-2008). The study also shows that there has been an increase in Opioid dependence cases over the decades increasing from 36.8 per cent in the first decade to 53.2 per cent of the total cases,in the last decade.
Titled Changing pattern of substance abuse in patients attending a de-addiction centre in North India 1978-2008,the study has been conducted by Dr Debasish Basu,Additional Professor of Psychiatry at PGIMER,and his colleagues and will soon be published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
Speaking to Newsline,Basu said: A clinical study is not meant to answer the question of true prevalence of substance abuse in general population,simply because the data reflects on the subjects who attend and subjects who are brought to the clinic for seeking treatment. My study documents the shifts in patterns of substance abuse and has major implications for all the stakeholders concerned with combating the mounting challenge of drug abuse in our society.
The study shows that most of the patients in the de-addiction centre were dependent on alcohol while opium,its derivatives and substances similar to opium were next in order of prevalence. Basu said that there was a slight decrease in the number of patients showing dependence on cannabis,however,there was a recent increase in the number of cases involving inhalants like correction fluid. A recent Health Ministry directive to ban the sale of bottled correction fluid will definitely help reduce prevalence of its abuse, he added.
Most of the patients at the centre belong to the urban area with only 32.7 per cent of the patients belonging to rural backgrounds. Explaining the results,Basu said: While almost all of the patients (99.5 per cent) were male,this is not accurately reflective of the true situation in the society because women do not come to the centre for treatment because of the stigma attached with it.