Indian Journal of Community Medicine

: 2008  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 265--267

Substance abuse among adolescents in urban slums of Sambalpur

Lisa Sarangi, Himanshu P Acharya, Om P Panigrahi 
 Department of Community Medicine, V.S.S Medical College, Burla, Orissa, India

Correspondence Address:
Om P Panigrahi
Department of Community Medicine, V.S.S. Medical College, Burla

How to cite this article:
Sarangi L, Acharya HP, Panigrahi OP. Substance abuse among adolescents in urban slums of Sambalpur.Indian J Community Med 2008;33:265-267

How to cite this URL:
Sarangi L, Acharya HP, Panigrahi OP. Substance abuse among adolescents in urban slums of Sambalpur. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2008 [cited 2021 Dec 5 ];33:265-267
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Full Text


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), [1] substance abuse is "persistent or sporadic drug use inconsistent with or unrelated to acceptable medical practice". The miasma of urban slums makes adolescents vulnerable to this multi-dimensional problem. Recently, substance abuse has been increasing among children and adolescents as sizeable proportions of adolescents in many states of India experiment with drugs quite early in life. This risk of drug abuse in adolescents can be conceptualized by the "Modified Social Stress Model". [2] The model proposes that an increased risk for drug use stems from distress + the normalization of drug use + the effect of drugs and a decreased risk of drug abuse due to social attachments + coping strategies + resources for their development. This study has unveiled the current social problem with the objective of assessing the prevalence and type of substances abused in the urban slums of Sambalpur, Orissa and the various predisposing factors leading to their abuse.

 Materials and Methods

A cross-sectional, community-based study was conducted among adolescents of both sexes residing in the slums of Sambalpur, Orissa. The study was conducted from May 2004 to December 2005. A minimum sample size of 489 was calculated in accordance with the prevalence of substance abuse found in the pilot study conducted locally, which was 45% in adolescents of both sexes with a sampling error of 10% with a 95% confidence limit.

Out of 29 municipality wards in Sambalpur, one ward was selected by a simple random sampling technique. The slum area in that ward was identified. Each house was surveyed to register all the adolescent girls and boys among the slum population of that ward. The total number of adolescents identified was recorded. The same technique was continued in other wards until our calculated target sample size of 489 was reached i.e., a total of 502 adolescents were surveyed.

A house-to-house visit with the help of a pre-designed and pre-tested questionnaire with appropriate changes was conducted and the necessary information was collected. The statistical analysis was carried out using proportions, chi-square tests, odds ratio, and 95% confidence interval (Woolf's method).


Out of 502 adolescents who were surveyed (297 males and 205 females), 218 (43.4%) admitted to substance abuse with overall males abusing more 147 (49.5%) than females 71 (34.6%). The median age of substance abuse for males was 15.09 years old and 15.29 years old for females. The proportion of substance abuse was found to increase significantly ( P et al. (2004) [5] i.e., peer group influenced the initiation of substance abuse in 47.5% of substance abusers.

Adolescents found to be not using drugs had either father or neither parent abusing substances whereas adolescents with substance abuse had either both parents or only mother abusing substances [Table 1]. A significantly higher level of adolescents using drugs i.e., 139 (48.3%) had an addicted peer ( P [3] where the prevalence was 70.1%. This study also revealed that the most common substance being abused is the widely available Gutkha (91.7%). The smoking rate was higher among boys (35.4%) than girls (8.5%) although Sinha [4] had found prevalence of smoking to be 19.4% in school students of Bihar. A WHO study group on youth and drugs (1973) stated that most of the experimentation and initiation of dependence-producing drugs takes place during adolescence.

This study also finds that children belonging to broken families are the highest substance consumers (51.2%). This finding is similar to Benegal, et al . (1999) [3] who found 55% of slum children in Bangalore with substance abuse problems belonged to broken families. This study also reveals that a significantly higher number of adolescents resort to substance abuse when both parents are abusers (46.7%). The same impact was observed when only mothers consume substances ( 43.5%). A study in Bihar by Sinha [4] showed that 51.7% of school children abusing substances had a parent who smoked. The most common purpose of substance abuse in the present study was found to be peer pressure (52.8%) whereas Bansal, et al. [6] found the most common purpose of substance abuse to be curiosity or experimentation (34.3%) among child laborers from slums in Surat.


This high prevalence especially due to high Gutkha consumption points out the necessity for a comprehensive strategy to curb the problem. Legislation on substance abuse has been vociferated loudly but still appears to be a mirage. Hence, a very pragmatic approach to containing the problem would be improved information education communication activities especially directed toward adolescents and their family members residing in urban slums.


1WHO. Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1994.
2WHO. Techn Res Ser No.886: 1999. p. 48.
3Benegal V, Kulbhusan, Seshadri S, Karott M. Drug abuse among street children in Bangalore. A project in Collaboration between NIMHANS, Bangalore and the Bangalore Forum for street and working children, Monograph funded by CRY; 1998.
4Sinha DN. Tobacco and non-communicable disease. Indian J Public Health 2004;48:111-5.
5Naskar NN, Ray M, Bhattacharya SK. A study of socio-economic factors on drug abuse among undergraduate medical students in Calcutta. Indian J Community Med 2004;29:69-71.
6Bansal RK, Banerjee S. Substance use by child labourers. Indian J Psychol 1993;35:159-61.