Substance Use and Addiction Research in India

Article excerpt

Byline: Pratima. Murthy, N. Manjunatha, B. Subodh, Prabhat. Chand, Vivek. Benegal

Substance use patterns are notorious for their ability to change over time. Both licit and illicit substance use cause serious public health problems and evidence for the same is now available in our country. National level prevalence has been calculated for many substances of abuse, but regional variations are quite evident. Rapid assessment surveys have facilitated the understanding of changing patterns of use. Substance use among women and children are increasing causes of concern. Preliminary neurobiological research has focused on identifying individuals at high risk for alcohol dependence. Clinical research in the area has focused primarily on alcohol and substance related comorbidity. There is disappointingly little research on pharmacological and psychosocial interventions. Course and outcome studies emphasize the need for better follow-up in this group. While lack of a comprehensive policy has been repeatedly highlighted and various suggestions made to address the range of problems caused by substance use, much remains to be done on the ground to prevent and address these problems. It is anticipated that substance related research publications in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry will increase following the journal having acquired an 'indexed' status.

Introduction

Substance use has been a topic of interest to many professionals in the area of health, particularly mental health. An area with enormous implications for public health, it has generated a substantial amount of research. In this paper we examine research in India in substance use and related disorders. Substance use includes the use of licit substances such as alcohol, tobacco, diversion of prescription drugs, as well as illicit substances.

Methodology

For this review, we have carried out a systematic web-based review of the Indian Journal of Psychiatry (IJP). The IJP search included search of both the current and archives section and an issue-to-issue search of articles with any title pertaining to substance use. This has included original articles, reviews, case series and reports with significant implications. Letters to editor and abstracts of annual conference presentations have not been included.

Publications in other journals were accessed through a Medlar search (1992-2009) and a Pubmed search (1950-2009). Other publications related to substance use available on the websites of international and national agencies have also been reviewed. In this review, we focus mainly on publications in the IJP and have selectively reviewed the literature from other sources.

For the sake of convenience, we discuss the publications under the following areas: Epidemiology, clinical issues (diagnosis, psychopathology, comorbidity), biological studies (genetics, imaging, electrophysiology, and vulnerability), interventions and outcomes as well as community interventions and policies. There is a vast amount of literature on tobacco use and consequences in international and national journals, but this is outside the scope of this review. Tobacco is mentioned in this review of substance use to highlight that it should be remembered as the primary licit substance of abuse in our country.

Results

The number of articles (area wise) available from IJP, other Indian journals and international journals are indicated in [Figure 1] and [Figure 2]. A majority of the publications in international journals relate to tobacco, substance use co-morbidity and miscellaneous areas like animal studies.{Figure 1}{Figure 2}

Epidemiology

Much of the earlier epidemiological research has been regional and it has been very difficult to draw inferences of national prevalence from these studies.

Regional studies

Studies between 1968 until 2000 have been primarily on alcohol use [Table 1]. …