Problem Alcohol Drinking in Rural Women of Telangana Region, Andhra Pradesh

Article excerpt

Byline: Padmavathy. Potukuchi, Prasada. Rao

Background: This is the first ever study conducted to assess the prevalence of problem alcohol use in the rural women of Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. Aims: To evaluate the prevalence of dependence and problem drinking, observe the factors that led to it and to monitor the effect of intervention in the form of psycho-education on their treatment seeking attitude. Materials and Methods: Cases were referred by the registrar from the Medicine Out-Patient Department using a three-item questionnaire for history of alcohol intake. Consecutive consenting female patients fulfilling the inclusion-exclusion criteria formed the sample. ICD-10 criteria and CAGE Questionnaire were used to assess dependence, problem drinking and co-morbid psychiatric illnesses. The socio-demographic data and the details regarding the nature and pattern of drinking and its complications were recorded using a semi-structured proforma. All patients were instructed to report at the end of 1 and 3 weeks for follow-up after a brief psycho-education regarding the problems of alcohol use. Results: Dependence was seen in 4.1% and problem drinking in 1%. Physical complications possibly due to alcohol were seen in 4.1% and psychiatric co-morbidity in 1%. Pregnancy drinking was recorded in 4.4%. Only 0.2% came for follow-up. Conclusion: To conclude, there is a perceptible degree of problematic use of alcohol in the rural women of this region. Yet, none of them were seeking psychiatric help. The soaring number of pregnancy drinking needs further exploration. The poor psychiatric follow-up leads us to conclude that in this sample the perception of alcohol problem is very low.

Introduction

Alcohol use in women in India has been on the rise owing to the changing sociocultural milieu. [sup][1] It is increasingly being recognized as a serious threat to their health and well being due to their unique, gender-based, physiological vulnerability factors. [sup][2],[3],[4],[5] However, there is a gross disparity in our knowledge about the problem alcohol use in Indian women for want of literature focusing exclusively on them. The dearth is more deeply felt for the rural sector, where, apart from urbanization, factors such as culture play a major role in the use of alcohol. The current prevalence of alcohol dependence in men, as quoted by a National Household Survey (2000-2001) is 21%. [sup][6] On the other hand, the statistical data for women remain vague and unclear. It has been consistently reported to be less than 5%. [sup][7] But the unrecorded consumption and expenditure on alcohol remains still higher. Hence, addressing this issue in the rural women, a morbidity which is reversible, especially from the rural areas, becomes the need of the hour. This study attempts to highlight the problem alcohol use among the rural Telangana women, where many unique cultural beliefs exist in the background.

When we look at some of the rural studies on alcohol in the last four decades, we see a predominant representation of male use. [sup][8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13] A comprehensive analysis in both the genders, of the pattern of alcohol use and the socio-demographic details, was done in two phases in a rural study from Rajasthan in 1984. [sup][14] To the best of our knowledge, the first ever detailed work-up on female alcohol use was done by a Bangalore based study (1994) where a definite fourfold increase in the female registries with problem alcohol drinking has been documented. [sup][15] However, the women in the sample were mostly from the urban locale. A recent large epidemiological survey from Karnataka (2003) gives an elaborate account of female alcohol use in India, drawing the sample from both urban and rural districts. 58.6% of rural women in their sample were in the heavy drinking category compared to 40.4% of urban women. Overall, hazardous drinking was recorded in about 28% of women. …

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