Shocking: Ministry data reveals, rise in alcohol and drug addiction among women

In a transitional society like India, with rising incomes and easier access to substances, women often feel obliged to perform several sometimes contradictory roles. They must be contributing members of the family, workplace and society. At times, women feel the pressure of these roles and some of them may turn to alcohol or drug use as a form of recreation to ease their stress

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Women are becoming more independent in their lifestyle choices, once upon a time you would not see a woman smoke a cigarette or drink alcohol. But these days, people wouldn’t be surprised if people saw a woman drink in a restaurant.

With changing times, women are also becoming victims of drug addiction and substance abuse. Work stress, family problems, peer pressure are probable reasons why women turn towards these addictions. It has been observed that young adolescent girls are falling prey to alcohol addiction. A new survey conducted by the Government of India throws some light on this issue.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has conducted a National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in 2018. The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi was entrusted with the responsibility to lead the technical and scientific aspects of the National Survey.

The report of the survey establishes that a substantial number of people use psychoactive substances in India, and substance use exists in all the population groups, but adult men bear the brunt of substance use disorders. As per the report, about 90 lakh women in the age group of 10-75 years use alcohol, 40 lakh use cannabis and 20 lakh use opioids.

This information was given by Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Rattan Lal Kataria in a written reply in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, July 16.

To about the reasons which could be contributing to the increase of alcohol and drug use in women, My Medical Mantra, spoke to psychiatrists to know their take on it and to get to the core of the issue.

Speaking about this subject, Dr Aditi Aacharya, a psychiatrist from Mumbai, said, “Today, woman are also getting hooked to alcohol and drugs. If we have 10 male patients for substance abuse counselling, compared to this, we have 2 women taking treatment for the same. Also, as compared to men, women have too many responsibilities on their head. The level of stress that they face is way too high. And, if they are suffering from depression or psychological issues, then they easily fall prey to substance abuse.”

Alcohol-related harm is determined by the volume of alcohol consumed, the pattern of drinking, and, on rare occasions, the quality of alcohol consumed. The harmful use of alcohol is a component cause of more than 200 disease and injury conditions in individuals, most notably alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers and injuries.

Dr Aacharya added, “Earlier woman use to stay at home and work. But, in the 21st century, women are independent. They are earning so they want to live their life on their own terms. This is also the possible reason behind a rising in a number of cases.”

While Dr Sagar Karia, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatrist, Sion Hospital, said, “ A lot of teenage and schoolgoing girls are nowadays getting addicted to drinking alcohol and using drugs. And the main reason is that parenting is not proper. As parents are working they don’t spend enough time with kids. Many times they are not aware of what the kids are indulging into. So, in my opinion, parents must stay alert and talk to their children.”