The effects of alcohol and drug abuse in India

“After my dad re-married when I was 5 years old, my step-mother started treating me ill. For instance, she set my right foot on fire because I wasn’t helping her with daily chores. I took charge and fled from home, went out searching for a job and when I was 8 years old, I met a few girls of my age who were working in an export factory. I also joined work there and stayed with my new-found friends. With our hard earned salary, we paid the house rent and got our daily food.”

“The owner of the export factory was a very kind lady who looked after us like her own children. When I was 18 years old, she got me married to the security guard of the factory. We were blessed with two girls, but to my dismay, my husband was a drunkard and a drug addict. He spent all our earnings to satisfy his addictions.”

The effects of alcohol and drug abuse in India

How wide spread is alcohol and drug abuse in India?

Based on recorded and unrecorded statistics of alcohol consumption per capita (in liters of pure alcohol) provided by the World Health Organization, Indian males consume an average of 62.7 grams of alcohol daily. The average male in the UK consumes an average of 29.8 grams of alcohol daily. The numbers suggests males in India are frequent heavy drinkers and highly dependent on alcohol. India is the highest alcohol consumer within South East Asia according to the World Health Organization.

The Times of India reported that a global study found that ‘alcohol consumption in India has risen by 55% over a 20 year period’. More and more people are dependent on addictive substances. The Indian Journal of Psychology published a report by Pratima Murthy et al. arguing that rising substance use among women and children are increasingly worrying. Social activist Brij Bedi says that ‘our children have ruined themselves with indulgence’. It is becoming a national problem. Severe drug and alcohol addictions do not only destroy an individual’s body but also have an effect on their surroundings and society.

“One day my second daughter, who was just a few months old then, went missing for 6 hours. I came to know that he had sold our daughter for 1.5 lakhs to get money to try and quench his insatiable desire for drug and alcohol abuse. But, the owner of the factory I was working in at that time, helped me retrieve my daughter by paying back the amount to the people who had bought her in the name of adoption.”

What are the effects of alcohol and drug abuse?

Alcoholism can lead to people failing to perform their daily duties including working, supporting their families and engaging with the community. Families often face financial consequences. The World Bank reports that alcoholism and drug abuse is frequently linked with domestic violence. Some men will mistreat their families physically, verbally and psychologically, which can lead to injuries and in some cases death of family members.

Businesses suffer as employees come to work drunk. Productivity decreases, and there is an increased risk of injuries and assaults. Eventually the worst abusers lose their jobs leaving families in an even more dire situation.

Alcoholism in Indian States vary greatly. Some states have banned alcohol as a result. Alcohol Rehab, an online portal on alcohol and drug abuse, states that individuals who tend to be below the poverty line and live in rural areas are the highest consumers of alcohol. The World Bank reports that ‘poor people see alcohol and drug use as a major consequence of poverty’. Many people, especially men, tend to spend their money on alcohol and drugs to forget their miseries and problems. Alcohol Rehab suggests that the cycle of poverty may never be broken if people are not given the opportunity to educate themselves or find a safe working environment. There is a strong link between ‘poverty, social exclusion and problematic drug use’ yet education, a reliable work position and a safe housing environment could help reduce the abuse of alcohol and drugs as well as help individuals build a better life for themselves.

“After that, my husband went missing and 15 years have passed by since then. I have been working a lot of odd jobs to look after my daughters and to ensure that they are well educated, unlike me. I do not want my daughters to go through any hardship, instead, I want them to be independent women. My only wish is that my daughters take up police or law related jobs.” This was a true story: “My Story: One Day My Daughter Went Missing. I Came To Know That My Husband Had Sold Our Daughter For 1.5 Lakhs”. The Logical Indian. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 July 2016.

We hire women mostly because they are less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. Also, as a wage earner, they will use the money more productively for the family’s needs. Once a family is stable with work, shelter and away from money issues, that family can sigh a breath of relief and be happy. Happy staff are less likely to make irrational choices and at the same time be motivated and productive to help us grow our business. It just makes sense.

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About the Author

Sukhdev is a British Indian, who has lived and worked in a number of cities including London, New York, Boston, Vilnius, Bogota and Dubai, where he resides with his wife. He currently works to help start-up companies that have a social impact. His latest venture is Chanzez, which will produce (not source) clothing ethically and use profits generated in the production countries solely to fund social impact projects such as school scholarships. Sukhdev is a CFA charter holder with an MBA with top honours from Columbia Business School in New York, an MSc from The London School of Economics and a BSc (Hons) from Aston University in Birmingham, England.

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