Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Drug Abuse among Young Adults in Calcutta, India

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Drug Abuse among Young Adults in Calcutta, India

Article excerpt

Dear Editor:

Drug and alcohol abuse are an increasing trend in India since post-independent days. Loss of productivity, increase of crime and violence, spread of AIDS and other sex-related diseases are directly or indirectly associated with alcohol and drug abuse. However, studies on drug abuse among the young adults in India as a whole are not available, except some sporadic studies from the western and northern parts of India. Primarily two studies are reported from eastern India, one involving the socio-medical aspects of drug use (Sahoo 1990), and the other reporting the incidence of drug abuses in rural and urban areas of West Bengal (Mondal 1986-88).

The primary purpose of this study was to explore (1) how the young adults in Calcutta became drug abusers; and (2) what were the causal factors behind their drug abuse.

For operational convenience, it was decided that a list of drug-addicted persons would be collected from the drug-addicted treatment centers in Calcutta. Twelve (12) treatment centers for the drug addicts (excluding the Government Hospitals) were available in Calcutta at the time of this study (1996). Among those twelve (12) centers, only four (4) treatment centers were willing to participate in this research project. These treatment centers provided the names and addresses of 2,503 drug-addict patients, who were treated in these centers during the nine-year period (1986-1994). These patients were all males, between the ages of 20 to 30. A list of names was prepared with these patients, and a systematic random sample of 8% of patients were taken from each treatment center's patient list, and we arrived at a total sample size of 200 drug-addicted patients. Data were collected in a structured form, with a door-to-door interview of 40-45 minutes each by the second author. Respondents' participation was totally voluntary, and their identities were kept confidential. Relationships between drug abuse and some selected variables, such as, (a) easy access of drugs; (b) employment status; (c) place of residence; (d) family disorganization; (e) peer influence; (f) poverty or affluence; and (g) faith in religion, were sought for establishing the structural causal relationship.

As all of the informants were drug-addicted patients, we were interested in how many drugs an individual used. So, for drug abuse, the total number of drugs used was counted, and the possible scores were 1 to 4, not considering tobacco as a drug. The average score was 2.70 with a standard deviation of 0.91. Easy access of drugs was conceptualized in two activities: father's drug use and informant's involvement in drug business. Father's drug-use was measured as number of drugs being used by informant's father, not considering tobacco as a drug. Father's drug use score was "0" for "no use" to "4" for "use of four types of drugs", with the mean of 1.68 and a standard deviation of 1.13. One's involvement in drug business was also considered as an easy access of drug. This variable was treated as a dummy variable. Individual's involvement in drug business was scored as "1" and non-involvement as "0". Similarly, informant's employment status, and place of residence were considered as dummy variables. If the informant was "employed", it was scored "1" and "0" for "unemployed". As all the informants were selected from metropolitan Calcutta, we were interested in whether the area where the informant was living had an effect on his drug use, especially, living in a "slum area" or a "non-slum area". Accordingly, living in "slum area" was scored "1", and "non-slum area" as "0".

Family disorganization was measured by four factors, such as, parental relation, parental dispute, cause of dispute, and parental separation. …

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