By Suneel Vatsyayan
Child & Alcohol
World Health Organisation (WHO) defines alcohol as a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties. A number of studies have shown that the harmful use of alcohol can act as a large disease, social and economic burden in societies. In the year 2010, WHO estimated the average alcohol per capita consumption in India to be 4.3 which included both recorded and unrecorded data and the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependence was found to be 2.6%.
In a comparison based study conducted in Ranchi, in parent-child relationship a significant difference was found between the children of alcoholic and non- alcoholic parents mainly in the domains of symbolic punishment, rejecting, objective punishment, demanding, in-different, symbolic reward, loving, and neglecting for father whereas for mother in the domain of symbolic punishment, rejecting, object punishment, indifferent, and neglecting.
In a study by National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), a majority of children reported lifetime use of a variety of substances where tobacco (83.2%) and alcohol (67.7%) were found to be the most common substances ever used followed by cannabis (35.4%), inhalants (34.7%), pharmaceutical opioids (18.1%), sedatives (7.9%), and smack (7.9%). Also, the use of inject-able substances was found to be reported by a significant proportion (12.6%). In the same study the major family factors associated with substance use in children were found to be substance use in a family member (57%), single parent/ broken families/living with relatives/no parents (25%), fights in the family (46.6%), and history of physical/verbal abuse (45.3%).
It would be right to hold that children have a right to grow up free from alcohol and other drugs and thus, we believe for the best interest principle enshrined in the CRC and thus come to the conclusion that evidence-based alcohol policy measures help to protect and promote the rights and well being of children in India.
- Easy availability of alcohol at home and alcohol related violence marginalize the child and make him/her vulnerable.
- Age of initiation of substance use has come down to 11 to 12 years. Underage drinking is rampant among senior school level because of commercial interest and lack of monitoring and compliance on the part of law enforcement departments.
- There is no monitoring and control on alcohol marketing in a market driven society. Alcohol industry is targeting children and young people through surrogate advertising, sponsoring sports events, and social media. Feature films and television contents have been manipulated for the promotion of alcohol indirectly.
- Tobacco, alcohol, and drug prevention policy at school and workplace level is missing, for example how to deal with a child abusing substance like correction fluid, tobacco, and alcohol/drugs.
- Limited availability of drug treatment and rehabilitation services exclusively for children with drug and alcohol problem.
A picture painted by a student affected by alcohol in the family during the campaign launch workshop on “Drug free Family and School: A child Right, launched by Nada India Foundation, New Delhi.