Substance abuse is an important health crisis in India. Examining and understanding their national consequences can provide a lens into its effects in rural communities such as Vadamanappakam. Statistics show that substances are a common problem among the Indian population as 75% of youth consume alcohol before turning 21 and 2.8% of the population use cannabis and opioids. This large scale crisis of consumption has led to over 30 million Indian citizens consuming alcohol in a harmful manner. While this problem is widespread, it is highly stigmatized as it is not covered as part of education in schools and oftentimes the drugs abused are commonly found such as painkillers.
The role of psychiatrists is to educate patients early on about the dangers of addiction and advocate for prevention policies. In one study, psychiatrists screen patients that are at risk for comorbid illness, educate them, and advocate for drug abuse prevention which led to 70% of alcohol abuse decreasing. In another case study in South Africa, the Central Drug Authority created drug forums committees at the local level to foster discussion and advocacy. However, this contrasts the Indian experience as there is an overall lack of individuals trained to handle substance abuse causes. However this can be dealt with at the individual, local, and cross-national level.
Consider the sociocultural factors along with biological factors
Help break stigmas associated with substance abuse and educate the community
Collaborate with other countries to enforce policies that decrease the risk of substance abuse
It is also important to apply this knowledge to the community in Vadamanappakkam as it is vital to ensure that RISHI can help alleviate local painkiller and alcohol addictions. This means exploring longer term solutions for health issues such as back and neck pain as well as educating the younger population. Targeting the youth in terms of corrective discourse seems to be an important route to take as the media often encourages alcohol and drug use. These initiatives can be implemented through methods such as supporting teachers at schools, interacting with the students directly, and providing opportunities for patients to the general hospital when in need of help.