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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

A Study of Socio-Demographic Profile of Substance Abusers Attending a De-Addiction Centre in Ahmedabad City

Author(s): A.M. Kadri, A. Bhagyalaxmi

Vol. 28, No. 2 (2003-04 - 2003-06)

Geeta Kedia Deptt, of PSM, BJ. Medical College, Ahmedabad

Abstract :

Research question: What are the socio-demographic characteristics of the substance abusers?

Objectives: 1. To identify the socio-demographic characteristics of the substance abusers. 2. To identify the drugs commonly used. 3. To identify the effects of positive family history on the age of starting the habit.

Study design: Interview based, Cross-Sectional study.

Setting: De-addiction Centre.

Participants: Substance abusers who are attending De-addiction center.

Statistical analysis: Mean, standard deviation, proportions and chi-square test.

Study variables: Age, marital status, occupation, addiction.

Results: Among 560 substance abusers, majority of them were in the age group between 26-35 years (46%) and belonging to low socio-economic class HI and IV (78.6%). 84.4% of the addicts were residents of Ahmedabad city. Greater proportion of abusers (82.1 %) had sought consultation after the age of 25 years, but 46.4% of the them had started taking the drugs before the age of 20 years. Alcohol was the most commonly used as 70.2% were addicted to it followed by brown sugar (13.8%). 26.1% of them gave history of drug addiction in one or other member of the family. Age of starting habit was earlier (<20 years) in those who were having positive family history of addiction as compared to abusers without positive family history. The association was found to be statistically significant (Χ2 = 20.82, df = l, p<0.05).

Keywords: Age, Drug addiction, De-addiction centre, Family background


Substance abuse is a complex and multidimensional problem. The problem is not merely that of an individual and a drug or a community, but of the interaction between the triad1. Continuous discovery of new drugs has no doubt brought relief in the treatment of hitherto incurable conditions and saved thousands of lives, but most of these drugs have also adverse effects, if not judiciously used. In India, the traditional drugs like opium, charas, bhang and ganja were used by sections of the society partly as leisure time activity and partly as part of the religious ceremony. Therefore, their consumptions did not invite much negative sanction from the society. Abuse of alcoholic beverages and tobacco are endemic in many societies, whilst the abuse of other psychoactive substances present in epidemic features and drug abuse is transmitted from person to person like an infectious disease2.

Material and Methods:

All the substance abusers attending Rahi Vayasan Mukti Kendra from 1 st January to 31 st December 1997 were taken up for the study. This de-addiction centre is situated in the center of the city and looked after by Gandhian Workers. This centre has one Consultant Psychiatrist, two Medical Officers and nurses. Three Medical Social Workers are also employed for field activities as well as for counseling of the substance abusers. For present study a pretested and predesigned proforma was used, a total of 560 substance abusers were studied. All were personally interviewed. Two or more than two visits were carried out to build rapport and build confidence amongst the substance abusers. This helped in getting deeper information regarding their habits.


Table I: Distribution of abusers as per age and educational level.

Age Group Frequency (N=560)
No. %
11-15 2 0.4
16-20 25 4.5
21-25 73 13.0
26-30 129 23.0
31-35 129 23.0
36-40 102 18.2
41-45 45 8.0
46-50 27 4.8
51-55 15 2.7
56+ 13 2.3
Illiterate 56 10.0
Primary 218 38.9
Higher Secondary 219 39.1
Graduation 47 8.4
Post-Graduation 20 3.6

A total of 560 substance abusers were interviewed. Majority of the substance abusers (46%) were in the age group of 26 to 35 years. Only 4.9% of them were adolescents. Mean age of drug abusers was 32.8±1.6. Most of the abusers were educated up to primary and secondary level (38.9% and 39.1% respectively).

Table II: Occupational and socio-economic profile of the abusers.

Occupation Frequency (N=560)
No. %
Student 7 1.3
Govt. Employee 79 14.1
Unemployed 22 3.9
Semiskilled 42 7.5
Business 80 14.3
Labouror 150 26.8
Pvt Employee 113 20.2
rickshaw Puller 64 11.4
Professional 3 0.5
Socio-Economic Class
I 20 3.6
II 70 12.5
III 175 31.3
IV 265 47.3
V 30 5.4

Almost one out of four (26.8%) abusers was a labourer and one out of five (20.2%) was private employees. More than three out of four substance abusers were from S.E. class III or below [S.E. class III (31.3%) class IV (47.3%) & class V (5.4%)]. Very few i.e. 3.6% of the substance abusers were coming from S.E. class I.

Table III: Age of initiation, type of substance used and positive family history of the abusers.

Age Frequency (N=560)
No. %
6-10 2 0.4
11-15 36 6.4
16-20 222 39.6
21-25 168 30.0
26-30 85 15.2
31-35 30 5.4
36+ 17 3.0
Type of Substance
Alcohol 393 70.2
Brwon Sugar 77 13.8
Opium 42 7.5
Tobacco 20 3.6
Others 50 8.9
Positive Family History
Yes 146 26.1
No 414 73.9

39.6% of the abusers had started substance abuse at the age of 16 to 20 years. Alcohol was most commonly used (70.2%) followed by brown sugar (13.8%). 146(26.1%) of them gave history of drug addiction in family member(s) while as many as 73.9% were the first reported abusers in their family.

Table IV: Relationship between positive family history and age of initiation.

Age Positive family History
Yes No
No. % No. %
6-10 2 1.4 0 0
11-15 14 9.6 22 5.3
16-20 93 63.7 129 31.2
21-25 32 21.9 136 32.9
26-30 3 2.0 82 19.8
31-35 2 1.4 28 6.8
36+ 0 0 17 4.1
Χ2 = 20.82, df=l, p<0.05


In a family with at least one abuser present, early age of initiation was seen in the another abuser as 73.7% of them showed 20 years of age or earlier age of starting compared to the abusers not having positive family background (36.4%). Early age of starting and presence of already substance abusers had statistically significant association (X2 = 20.82).


Ahmedabad is the biggest city of Gujarat. Modernization and industrialization are the two key components of its development. Drug abuse is a complex and multi-dimensional problem. It is an established fact that urbanization, modernization and industrialization have adverse effect on mental health. Worldwide age of drinking of alcohol is declining and young people started taking drugs in the younger age group3. In the present study, mean age of-the substance abusers was 32.8±1.6 and mean age of initiation of the substance was 23.9±5.63. This finding co-related very well with the study conducted by E. Masihi et al, where mean age of substance abuse and mean age of initiation of habit were 38.8 years and 22.5 years respectively3. Similar study conducted by B. Sridhar et al amongst medical students revealed that students who tried the drug for the first time belonged to the age group of 19 to 22 years4.

Very few substance abusers were reported from S.E. class I and II (3.6% and 12.5% respectively). It didn't rule out the presence of substance abusers amongst the affluent class. Rahi Vayasan Mukti Kendra is less preferred by the upper S.E. class people as it is a public hospital.

Seven out of the ten abusers were addicted to alcohol. Surprisingly consumption of the traditional drugs like opium and cannabis were remarkably low as compared to alcohol and brown sugar. It showed effects of urbanization and shifting from traditional way of life to modern life.

An abuser of substance in house had a tremendous impact. In case of smoking it is noted that if child's older sibling and both parents smoke the child is four times likely to smoke as one with no smoking history in the family5. In this study 74.7% of the addicts with positive family history had started habit before the age of 20 years; which is more than a double figure than the addicts without family history.


1. As the mean age of initiation of substance abuse was early twenties, in liaison with schools and colleges some recreational activities can be generated to prevent the diversion of zest and zeal of youth towards the devil of drug abuse.

2. Attitude of family members should be full of warmth and at the same time vigilant for early diagnosis.

3. Lastly family member is the role model for the children and youngsters, every senior family member should remain away or quit the substance abuse and should adore healthy habits for the prevention of development of habits and inculcation of healthy behaviour in the youngs of the family.


  1. Arturo Qrtiz. Development of a system for registry of information of drug use in Mexico. Bulletin of Pan America Health Organization. 1990; 24(1): 46-53.
  2. ME Medino Mora et al. Epidemiological status of drug abuse in Mexico. Bulletin of Pan America Health Organization 1990; 24(1): 1-2.
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