Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine

Drug Use among Teenagers and Young Adults in Bhutan

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine

Drug Use among Teenagers and Young Adults in Bhutan

Article excerpt

Byline: Kinley. Wangdi, Tshering. Jamtsho

Background: Use, possession, and illegal transactions of controlled substances have increased in recent years in Bhutan. This study aimed to determine the national prevalence of ever drug use and identify its associated factors amongst teenagers and young adults. Methods: This study was conducted using data from the National Health Survey 2012 of Bhutan. The outcome variable of interest was ever drug use in teenagers and young adults. The questionnaire was developed following the WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance of non-communicable diseases (STEP). Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were performed to identify correlates of ever drug use. Results: The prevalence of ever drug use among teenagers and young adults was 3.2% (n = 672). The factors associated with ever drug use were: being men; being single; being in age group of 18-24 years; having a primary school, high school, monastic, university, or diploma education; being technicians or salespersons; feeling always lonely; having ever consumed alcohol, and having ever smoked. Conclusion: Compared to the other countries in the WHO South-east Asia region, the prevalence of ever drug use in Bhutan is low. Use of other substances, including smoking and alcohol use, was associated with ever drug use. For greater effect, drug use prevention strategies should include prevention of smoking and alcohol use.

In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 5.6% (270 million) of people between 15 and 64 years used drugs at least once in their lives.[1] Drug use can lead to dependence and require treatment. During the same period, one in nine people who use drugs (11%) were estimated to be suffering from drug use disorders, which translates to 30.5 million cases.[1] Globally, drug use contributes 2% of cause-specific disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for young people aged 10-24 years.[2]

Drugs are used for several reasons including experiment out of a sense of curiosity, excitement or rebellion, socializing, enhance an activity and alleviate the depressed mood, and reaction.[3],[4],[5] Drug use is associated with many harmful effects on both physical and mental health.[6],[7],[8] The cost to the community and society of drug abuse is colossal.[9] Drug abuse has a significant impact on healthcare services, public services, and the criminal justice system. A large part of the health care budget is spent on treating drug addiction.[10] Drug abusers are estimated to commit 36 million drug-motivated crimes each year, which financially accounts for 90% of the total cost to society.[11] In addition, individuals and families are affected through the loss of productivity and unable to earn income.[12]

With the rapid modernization of the country in the past five decades, Bhutanese society has gone through many changes during this period. This transition was characterised by rising disposable income levels and cultural changes with exposure to the outside world through television and the internet.[13] Further, demographics are changing rapidly as young people in particular move to towns for work, education, and entertainment.[14],[15],[16] Rising migration and divorce rates often result in a fraying of ties to traditional settings, leading to growing substance abuse that compounds the problem, particularly with school dropouts. In 2017, Thimphu Police registered 287 cases in connection with drug abuse, possession, and illegal transactions of controlled substances that led to the arrest of 596 people, the highest in recent years.[17]

Despite this societal transformation, there is a paucity of systematically analysed in-depth studies representing the national prevalence of drug use and its correlates. Therefore this study attempts to present the national prevalence of drug use amongst teenagers (12-17 years) and young adults (18-35 years),[18],[19] and correlates associated with it.

Methods

Study site

The study was undertaken in the small Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. …

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