Alcohol consumption

The link between alcohol consumption and violence: the path to de-addiction

It was heartening to see the Delhi government ending the BOGO (buy one, get one free) offer by new liquor stores being opened under the business-friendly excise policy. Encouraging because of a significant problem that alcohol consumption causes in India and around the world – domestic violence. Ending the BOGO supply will not, at the very least, make life worse for many women, who are dealing with husbands who can drink twice as much.

The women, living in vulnerable situations, both economically and otherwise, had to struggle for a long time with the alcoholic male member of the family who abused, beat and drained his earnings into a bottle of booze.

In 2019, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) released the results of a nationwide survey, which was commissioned to study the extent and trends of drug abuse in India. The survey showed that approximately 14.6% of the population consumes alcohol, 2.8% consumes cannabis products, 2.1% consumes opioids, 1.08% consumes sedatives and 0 .7% use inhalants, with a small proportion of the country’s population using cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants. , or hallucinogens.

The survey also indicated that more than 57 million Indians are affected by harmful or dependent alcohol consumption and need help for alcohol-related problems. In extreme cases, the harmful effects of drug addiction are suicide and death. But in many cases, the consequences of a booze-fuelled party are physical abuse – the burden of which, more often than not, is borne by family members, especially wives.

The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the lives of female family members. During the many closures over the past two years, incidents of violence against women within the household have increased exponentially. Data from the National Commission for Women shows that India recorded a 2.5 times increase in domestic violence between February and May 2020. United Nations (UN) Women said that in the first four phases of the lockdown, women’s organizations across the country reported more cases of domestic violence. violence than they had experienced in the past 10 years, for a similar period.

India, like most other South Asian countries, has a highly gender-stratified culture that grants complete authority to men. Therefore, the incidence of various forms of violence against women, including within the family, is a common phenomenon regardless of the socio-cultural group of the woman.

There has been some improvement, but there is still a long way to go. According to the recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 29.3% of single women ages 18-49 have experienced domestic violence in the form of physical and/or sexual violence. The patriarchal mindset and acceptance of violence is also justified by the female members of the household.

Of the women surveyed as part of the NFHS, those in 18 states across the country believed hitting or beating the woman was justifiable. Much of this violence occurs under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

We need to reorient our detox strategy. Reducing substance use in a person with an active addiction requires psychosocial intervention and cannot be forced. There is a need for a more empathetic program/intervention to continue to support those in drug treatment. At the same time, the intervention must address the reduction of the vulnerability of wives.

An intervention focused on improving a couple’s relationship (such as a couple empowerment program) is needed to address this issue. This is even more important at times like these. There is enormous pressure on families not only in terms of fear of Covid-19 but also to maintain their livelihoods, a well-functioning relationship between a man and his wife can overcome the multidimensional battle that families are facing. confronted.

Currently, the drug treatment program run by the Government of India has a strong focus on drug user detoxification and harm reduction – primarily HIV prevention among people who inject drugs and treatment of people – implemented by its nodal agency National AIDS Control Organization; and reducing the demand for illicit drugs through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program.

Programs, however, pay very little attention to the necessary social or family aspects of substance use. An ideal intervention designed for couples whose husbands have a substance use disorder should aim to reduce the substance dependence of the male spouse; improve the spouse’s autonomy and mental health; and improving positive gender norms and communications between the couple.

In a few states such as Gujarat and Bihar, the sale/consumption of alcohol is prohibited, but it is common knowledge that people with an active addiction in these places resort to country booze or booze. black market.

Forced abstinence in any case is counterproductive. The first Covid-19-induced lockdown of 2020 is an example of how bans can be horribly wrong, with cases of people with addictions dying by suicide. Instead, we need to empathize with these people and become partners in their journey to rehabilitation. At the same time, we must give their spouses the means to manage the situation by offering them sustained psychological support.

Alcohol is an important source of revenue for governments. Although banning it is not the solution, we can consider using a small percentage of these proceeds to build a strong detox infrastructure and expand the network of counseling and medical facilities dedicated to combating this menace. . And yes, for that matter, ending the BOGO marketing strategy is a way forward in this effort.

Dr. Rajiv Tandon is Director – Health, Lopamudra Ray Saraswati is Director – Health and Prince Bhandari is Associate – Health, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International, India

Opinions expressed are personal