Incidents of substance abuse such as the use of alcohol,inhalants,drugs,tobacco and nicotine has increased significantly in the citys urban and rural slums according to the latest trends revealed by the doctors of the Department of Psychiatry at the Government Medical College and Hospital,Sector 32.
Substance abuse is prevalent even within the age group of 5-8 years in the slum areas and the peripheral colonies in the city,said Dr B S Chavan,head of psychiatry,GMCH-32 who was participating in the three-day annual national conference being held in the city at a local hotel.
According to the statistics of an epidemiological survey conducted by the Department of Psychiatry,GMCH,to estimate the pattern of alcohol and other substance dependence in rural and slum dwellers of Chandigarh,alcohol was the primary substance of dependence for the majority of urban slum substance users and rural areas users.
The age at which drug abuse first took place was as low as even five years and 20 years among rural population and urban slums.
Interestingly,the majority of them reported having health related complications (85.71%),followed by family problems (77.31%) due to drug dependence.
We have been working in the field of Community Mental health via our extensive outreach programmes through medical camps,social workers etc for the past 17 years. During these years,we have experienced that on the one hand,substance abuse has gone up,and on the other hand,the age of children indulging in it has decreased with even a five year old inhaling correction fluid in slums without even knowing what it is, said Dr Ajeet Sidana,of the Department of Psychiatry,GMCH-32.
Also,startlingly,during the last few years,the numbers of girls indulging in substance abuse has also shot up with many of them hooked to chewing tobacco and smoking bidis. With their parents leaving in the morning to earn their livelihood daily,and the children not going to school,they get hooked to substance abuse. When their younger siblings,who are barely 5-6 year old see them indulging in it,they also engage in the collective abuse, explained Dr Sidana.
On the other hand,among the educated urban class,youngsters are facing severe problems of unfulfilled aspirations or suffering financial losses leading to severe depression among them and sometimes this is even leading to suicidal tendencies. A large number of cases come to the hospital wherein the youngsters are not able to cope with such severe stress and are to be put on medication,said Dr Chavan.