Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
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Year : 1989  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 196-8  

Socio-demographic features of cannabis and heroin abuse in Bombay.

SS Shastri, KP Kolhatkar 

Correspondence Address:
S S Shastri


A study of socio-demographic features of 680 cannabis and heroin addicts showed that the factors like, age, religion, family structure, peer groups and the easy availability of these drugs contribute to the problem of addiction.

How to cite this article:
Shastri S S, Kolhatkar K P. Socio-demographic features of cannabis and heroin abuse in Bombay. J Postgrad Med 1989;35:196-8

How to cite this URL:
Shastri S S, Kolhatkar K P. Socio-demographic features of cannabis and heroin abuse in Bombay. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 1989 [cited 2022 Jun 26 ];35:196-8
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Full Text


The problem of drug abuse in India is ever-growing. Various methods have been tried to curb this menance. One such method is `health education' of the public in general and of the "at-risk" groups in particular. Background information on the subject is essential for planning `health education programme'.

The present study was carried out as a prelude to a `health education programme', meant for combating the problem of drug abuse in Bombay city and suburbs.


The study was conducted at 3 Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Centres and 2 drug addicts' rehabilitation centres situated in different areas of Bombay and its suburbs.

Six hundred and eighty addicts who attended these centres over a period of three months were interviewed. Data regarding age, sex, religion, education, occupation, problems in the family, economic status and causes for developing the habits were entered in a designed proforma. The collected data was then analysed to determine sociodemographic features of this population.


It was found that all the addicts were taking either cannabis or heroin. Seventy-two percent of addicts belonged to the age group of 20-24 years [Table 1]. Females comprised only 2% of the addicts. The problems were found to be common in Christians (27%) and Muslims (29%).

As shown in[Table 1], 544 of the 680 persons admitted that they developed addiction between the age of 20 and 24.

Seventy-eight per cent of addicts came from the families which were facing problems such as loss of one or both parents or separation of the parents, however, no correlation was found between liability for addiction and economical status of the family, as judged by per capita income [Table 2].

On analysis of reasons for taking drug, drug addiction was found to be most common in peer groups (n = 409). The other reasons were curiosity (19.85%), pleasure seeking (12%), and mental tension (5%). Majority of addicts (84%) mentioned that the drug was easily available to them. Education and occupation had no significant effect on the habit.


The problem of drug addiction appeared to be common amongst youths (20-24 years). The review of the literature also reveals the same.[3],[7],[8] The high incidence in youths may be due to their relative emotional immaturity.

The prevalence among Christians may possibly be due to their excessive permissiveness coupled with an obvious affinity towards Western culture. However, why addiction is so common in Muslims is not yet clearly understood.

It has been mentioned that the children from problem-families and broken homes, who lack proper parental control and guidance, are most likely to become victims of this dreadful habit,[4] and same was our observation.

In our series peer groups, curiosity and pleasure seeking were the common reasons for developing the addiction. The same findings have been stressed by others.[2],[5]

The free availability and easy access to the drug contribute towards continuing drug use.[1],[6]


1Adityanjee, Mohan, D. and Saxena, S.: Heroin dependence. Ind. J. Psych., 26: 312-316, 1984.
2Kramer, J. F. and Cameron, D. C.: A manual on drug dependence, W.H.O., Geneva. 1975, pp. 51-53.
3Muttagi. F. K.: Drug abuse among college students in Bombay. In, "Current Research In Drug Abuse In India." Edited by D Mohan, Ii. S. Seth and E, Tongue, Gemini Printers, Vedic Mudranalaya, Pahari Dhiraj, Delhi, 1984, pp. 1149-1157.
4Natu, M. and Shaikh, N.: How and why of drug abuse. Maharashtra Med. J., 31: 157-159, 1984.
5Ponnudurai. R., Somasundaram, U., Indira, I. P. and Gunasekar, P.: Alcohol and drug abuse among internees. Ind. J. Psych., 26: 128-132. 1984.
6Saxena, S. and Mohan, D.: Rapid increase of heroin dependence in Delhi. Ind. J. Psych., 26: 41-45, 1984.
7Seth, B. B., Tiwari, S. C., Kumar, P. and Trivedi, J. K.: Drug use in India-an overview with special reference to cannabis. Ind. J. Psych., 26: 55-56, 1984.
8Veeraraghavan, V.: Drug abuse among university students, In, "Current Research In Drug Abuse In India." Edited by D. Mohan, H. S. Seth and E. Tongue, Gemini Printers, Vedic Mudranalaya, Pahari Dhiraj, Delhi, 1984, pp. 89-98.

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