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ORIGINAL RESEARCH PAPERS
Year : 2006  |  Volume : 48  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 243-247

A profile of substance abusers using the emergency services in a tertiary care hospital in Sikkim


Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, 5th Mile, Tadong, Gangtok 737102, Sikkim, India

Correspondence Address:
Amit Chakrabarti
Department of Pharmacology, Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences, 5th Mile, Tadong, Gangtok 737102, Sikkim
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.31556

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Background: Sikkim, a state in Northeast India with a population of more than 500,000 and inhabited by indigenous population of Lepchas, Bhutias and Nepalis, lies in the foothills of the Himalayas sharing borders with Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Northeast India is a major source of injection drug users (IDUs) and associated HIV/AIDS. Alcohol use is traditionally prevalent in Sikkim and recently, IDU behaviour has also been reported, although systematic information on epidemiology and treatment availability of substance abuse in Sikkim is not available. Aim: To study the sociodemographic and drug use profile of substance abusers using the emergency services in a tertiary care hospital. Methods: A retrospective chart review was used. Patients with history of current drug use seeking emergency services for any medical or surgical consequence incident to substance abuse from July 2000 to June 2005 (60 months) were included in the study. Data were generated from emergency case register, hospital records and case sheets. SPSS 10.0 was used for data analysis. Results: Out of 54 patients seeking emergency services with substance abuse (1.16% of all psychiatric consultations), alcohol abusers were 77.8% and other opioid abusers 14.8%. Prevalence of IDU was 16.66%. Common opioids abused were dextrpropoxyphene and pentazocine, both analgesics. A significant number of patients (46.3%) had a history of >20 days/month frequency of abuse. Median of duration of abuse with all drugs was 12 years, while that with IDU population was 3 years. Alcohol withdrawal was the commonest cause (57.4%) of reporting to the emergency. Psychiatric comorbidity was found among 7.4%. Commonest medications used were chlordiazepoxide and clonidine, for withdrawal and naltrexone, for substitution. No standardized treatment protocol for substitution treatment was available. Conclusions: This is an initial attempt to study the sociodemographic and drug use profile of substance abusers in Sikkim. Demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of substance abusers seeking emergency services are not significantly different from treatment-seeking substance abusers in other parts of India. IDU behaviour has been detected and low median duration of use suggests an emerging problem and need for urgent harm reduction. Alcohol withdrawal was the commonest cause of seeking emergency services, which is related to high prevalence of alcohol abuse in Sikkim. No standardized substitution treatment is available for substance abusers, which may lead to higher rates of relapse.



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