Alcohol Taking Heavy Toll on Lower, Middle Income Groups
CUTTACK: Rising alcoholism is taking a heavy toll on the population, particularly among the middle socio-economic class and lower income groups in the State.
While incidence of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is on a dangerous upswing, the socio-economic implications are equally grievous, according to a hospital-based study on ‘Socio-economic impact of alcohol on patients with ALD in eastern India’.
The study that evaluated patients of ALD from August 2013 to August 2014 at Gastroenterology Department of SCB Medical College and Hospital here has found that more than 80 per cent belong to lower and middle income groups with income ranging from `5000 to `25,000 a month.
Almost the bulk of patients at 80 per cent receiving treatment for ALD in the Department had the habit of consuming both country liquor and IMFL while 12 per cent and eight per cent consumed only country liquor and IMFL respectively.
The major concern, however, is the consequences of addiction ranging from shattered families, high debts to brush with law and accidents. With average hospitalisation for ALD-induced complications being almost three times a year and average expenditure of `30,000 during each time, they incurred huge treatment costs.
Sixty per cent of hospitalised patients were in the most productive age group of 30-50 years with 96 per cent married, either in business or employed. While 86 per cent of patients borrowed money from friends, relative and others to meet treatment costs, over 40 per cent exhausted all their family savings and sold personal belongings. Around three per cent also went to the extent of selling land.
“That alcoholism greatly impacts the socio-economic status of any person is known but the extent that ALD can lead to has become more distinct. More than 83 per cent reported acute family and social disturbances due to their habit but what is more disturbing is that in 87 per cent cases, their children were worst affected, even deprived of proper education,” Head of the Department Prof SP Singh said.
The study, conducted by researchers and DM students Dr Pradeep Padhi, Dr Jimmy Narayan, Dr Ayaskant Singh and Dr Girish Kumar Pati under Prof Singh, has emphasised on intensified action by the Government, social organisations as well as community members to educate people about alcohol and its effect on them and the society.