Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"At the age of 17 years, Mahesh has given up his schooling to work as a salesman." .... read more

Educate 500 families living with alcohol use & NCD
"At the age of 17 years, Mahesh has given up his schooling to work as a salesman." Alcohol violence in the family is forcing a lot of children to join work force. We target to sensitize 500 children about the issue of alcoholism and NCDs & encourage them to continue their education. Uma's troubles became worse when her husband started using alcohol and abuse became an everyday affair. We intend to counsel, heal 240 women survivors of violence to seek help and to live healthy & productive life.

Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. It can lead to a range of mental, behavioural and other non-communicable conditions (NCDs). The harmful use of alcohol also brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large. The recovering addicts and their families are usually not aware of NCDs and its relation with their alcohol and drug use. Moreover, discrimination from society leads to isolation of families affected by alcohol abuse.


The project aims to meet the need to engage "patient" before they accept this new identity of "patient" and promote informed choices among people effected and affected by NCDs & alcohol. Need has been identified to overcome the stigma and social repression associated with being diseased in order to empower and ensure the entitlement of women and children to assert their right to health. Prevention of NCDs with a focus on alcohol by using treatment readiness peer based approach..... 

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

China and India had the biggest fatality tolls from alcohol in 2016... Global status report on alcohol 18

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Healthy India Alliance urge for a unified Minimum Limit Drinking Age across the country as 25 years

 Esteemed Sir,

Greetings from the Healthy India Alliance!

The Healthy India Alliance is a coalition of 13 Indian Multi-disciplinary Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), working collaboratively to strengthen CSO capacity and engagement for Non Communicable Disease (NCD) prevention and control in the country.

At the outset, we wish to congratulate the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, for maintaining a strong stand on keeping the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) at 25years in Delhi. We are writing to you in reference to the Public Interest Litigation filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for quashing of section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2009 which prescribes 25 years as MLDA in the NCT of Delhi. In support of this argument, the petition also mentions that NO RATIONALE basis for section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2009 which prescribes 25 years as theMLDA in the NCT of Delhi, which can be supported and justified by the evidence presented below.

Healthy India Alliance is committed to support the Government of NCT of Delhi to raise strong arguments against lowering the MLDA while making efforts for a unified age of 25 years across the Nation, while also ensuring stricter implementation and penalties for violation.

In India, NCDs are responsible for 6.4 million deaths every year, which is 62% of all deaths and alcohol use is one of the key preventable risk factors contributing to NCDs. Consumption of alcoholic beverages has become a major public health concern in India and is a major contributor to death and disability. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Report, alcohol control is a best buy and presents an excellent case for a Return on Investment (RoI), i.e. for every $1 invested on alcohol control a return of $9.13 is expected.
A number of studies have shown that the adolescent brain is still developing until the age of 25 years. During this period, they are under social pressures to drink. At times, they try tocope with anxiety and depression with alcohol and if they're in an environment where the MLDA is less, they're not under the social stigma against getting drunk. Evidence suggests that during young adulthood, especially the college years between the ages of 18 and 25, is an important period in life during which key decisions in educational, occupational, and social realms are made that can have lifelong ramifications. Alcohol use during this period negatively affects two important regions of the brain Hippocampus (affecting memory and learning) and Prefrontal lobe (affecting planning, judgment, decision making, impulse control and language). Evidence shows that the more teenagers delay their alcohol drinking, the less likely they are to become regular consumers as an adult and can avoid alcohol-related problems later in life.
Studies also suggest that heavy drinking during adolescence and young adulthood is associated with poorer Neuro-cognitive functioning during the young adult years and particularly with impairment of attention and Visio-spatial skills. Brain imaging and studies of event-related potentials have demonstrated that heavy alcohol consumption during adolescence and young adulthood also can lead to subtle but significant abnormalities in brain structure and function.The brain continues to develop throughout adolescence and into young adulthood, and insults to the brain during this period therefore could have an impact on long-term brain function.  
We, the members of the Healthy India Alliance urge for a unified MLDA across the country as 25 years in contrast to the existing varying (18-25 years) sub-national MLDAs.
Therefore, the Government of NCT of Delhi’s decision to maintain the existing MLDA at 25 years is critically needed backed up by scientific evidence.Moreover, stricter enforcement of law that imposes firm penalties for violation of MLDA and other alcohol control measures, will further its effectiveness and success. This will also project Delhi as an ideal State and a best practice model for other states to follow.
Thanking you,

With best regards,

Member Organisations of the Healthy India Alliance
Nada India Foundation is a co-signature as Healthy India Alliance board member of this appeal to Delhi Government  
To June 4, 2018
Shri AmjadTak
Commisioner (Excise,Entertainment & Luxury Tax)
Excice, Entertainment and Luxury Tax Department
Government of NCT of Delhi

With a copy to: 
Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of NCT of Delhi
Shri ShriSatyendar Jain, Hon' ble Minister of Health, Government of NCT of Delhi

Nada India Foundation  is governing board member of Healthy India Alliance.

Mental health services are missing in Kerala ? People are turning to liquor....

As Kerala reels under floods, a new report has emerged that Keralites consumed liquor worth over Rs 500 crore in around 10-day period since rain started pouring in the state and caused massive destruction.

According to ibtimes report,  the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) released data stating that the total sale of liquor and beer stood at Rs 516 crore within the time period starting from Independence day August 15) to Onam (August 26).

Unattended grief and loss makes a person vulnerable and may turn him or her to self medication. Use of alcohol or other substance increase after disaster like flood ,earthquake etc. in order to deal with emotional pain. It is important to understand that alcohol intensify emotional experience  negatively and delay grief process. Nada India urges government and civil society to provide barrier free mental health services as other relief work is on.

"Other risk factors can raise the chance for substance abuse during the grieving process. For example, a person with a history of anxiety, depression, previous addiction, or a lack of social support is more prone to turn to alcohol or drugs to cope after a loved one’s death. Those with a family history of alcoholism or drug addiction may be more vulnerable as well." 
Kerala witnessed one of the worst flood situations in a century. Over 3.26 lakh people are still in relief camps across Kerala even after a fortnight of the devastating deluge that left a trail of destruction claiming 322 lives and rendering thousands homeless. With rehabilitation measures on, the government said an immediate relief of Rs 10,000 would be disbursed soon to the flood-affected.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday urged all Malayalis to donate one month salary to rebuild the state.

In many districts, people have started moving from camps to their homes after cleaning work has been completed. The receding flood waters had left mounds of mud and debris in their homes and surroundings.

As Kerala struggles to stand on her feet, water logging of homes in various places, especially in Kuttanad region of the worst-hit Alapuzha district continues to be a worrying factor.

Huge pumps will be used to flush out water from homes and premises, after which the cleaning process will be taken up by removing the accumulated silt, authorities said.

Vijayan, who had accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during the aerial surveys, said they were touched by the intensity of the devastation and he hoped that the Centre would provide more funds.

The Prime Minister assured the Governor that Kerala would get more central funds from the National Disaster Response Fund as per laid down procedure and that the Rs 600 crore central aid released so far was only the advance assistance.

As on date a total of 10 Columns and 12 Engineer Task Force of the Army are carrying out continuous rescue and relief operations in the area.

The troops are involved in road opening, clearing of landslides and construction of temporary bridges, utilising the natural resources available in the area.

So far approximately 26 temporary bridges have been constructed, repaired and approximately 50 roads cleared for the general public, a defence press release said.

At least 3.64 lakh carcasses of birds and over 17,000 of big animals have been retrieved and buried so far.

Friday, August 31, 2018

IOGT International World Congress 69 Open Letter

Expressing solidarity with people of Vietnam and supporting comprehensive alcohol policy solutions in open letter to Prime Minister, Health Minister, and National Assembly Chair

H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc,
Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
H.E. Vu Duc Dam,
Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
H.E. Nguyen Thi Kim Tien,
Minister of Health
H.E. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan,
Chairwoman of the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
H.E. Nguyen Thuy Anh,
Chairwoman, National Assembly Social Affairs Committee
Your Excellency,
It is our distinct honor and privilege to address You by way of this letter. We are the assembled delegates of the 69th Session of the IOGT International World Congress. Founded in 1851, IOGT International is today the largest global network for evidence- based policy solutions and community-based interventions to prevent and reduce alcohol harm.
We, the delegates from more than 40 countries, are writing to You today with regard to the Vietnamese government’s work to adopt a new and evidence-based alcohol law to promote health and development in Vietnam.
We, strongly support Your efforts to tackle alcohol harm. Evidence shows that alcohol- related damage, death, and deprivation are rampant in Vietnam. Recently published WHO evidence shows that 79.000 people die every year due to alcohol and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized due to alcohol-related diseases. Alcohol also causes massive economic losses of up to 3.3% of GDP.
We therefore express our solidarity with the people of Vietnam whose families are decimated and whose communities are disrupted by pervasive alcohol harm. It is clear that high-level political commitment and persistent, evidence-based action is urgently needed.
For that reason, we wish to express our grave concern about alcohol industry interference into the process of drafting and adopting the alcohol law. This is deeply troubling because Big Alcohol is ruthlessly pursuing profits with no regard for Human Rights, human dignity, and human well-being. The alcohol industry has accumulated an appalling track record of aggressive political activity to undermine, derail, and obstruct evidence-based and cost-effective alcohol policy measures that would benefit people and societies, but hurt their profits. Big Alcohol interventions in the Vietnamese government’s processes to draft and adopt a comprehensive alcohol laws, is not to promote health and development in Vietnam, but to secure their investments and protect their profits. This is a clear conflict of interest.
We therefore reiterate that it is Your governments’ right and duty to both protect Your citizens from harm and invest to promote the health, well-being and socio-economic status of the people of Vietnam.
Alcohol is a major obstacle to sustainable development, adversely affecting Your government’s ability to reach 13 of the 17 SDGs. Alcohol is also a leading risk factor for Non-Communicable Diseases including mental ill-health in Vietnam, with strong links between alcohol and cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, diabetes and mental health conditions. But this NCDs epidemic and the massive burden of alcohol harm in Vietnamese communities can be curbed and modified. High-impact, cost-effective and evidence-based alcohol policy tools are available and we commend You for including those into the draft law.
The alcohol policy best buys hold considerable and largely untapped potential to promote health and development in Vietnam and to protect especially vulnerable groups like children and youth, women and people in the most deprived and marginalized communities. For example, a $1 investment in the alcohol policy best buy measures generates a return of $9 dollars.
It is of utmost importance to protect Your process of drafting the alcohol law from interference of Big Alcohol. Their fundamental conflict of interest means that they are not a reliable and trustworthy source of information on the impact of WHO- recommended, scientifically proven measures.
This becomes clear in, for example, the case of alcohol taxation. We are deeply troubled by the fact that Heineken and other Big Alcohol entities have attacked the inclusion of increased alcohol taxation in the draft alcohol law. Just this week, brand new research published in the “Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs” shows that alcohol taxation is a triple-win measure as it reduces alcohol consumption, eases the burden of alcohol harm, and helps raise domestic resources for health promotion and sustainable development.
We want to congratulate You for the progress You have made in drafting a comprehensive and evidence-based alcohol law. We strongly encourage You to follow the WHO advice and best practice examples from other countries in Your region in including all alcohol policy best buy measures in Your law. And we pledge our support to You in standing up to an unethical alcohol industry that has not the best interest of Your country and people in mind, but only their own profits.
It is high-time that alcohol policy solutions become the priority they should be in Vietnam and Your continued leadership is essential to make this a reality.
Yours sincerely,
Bratislava,                                                                         Gothenburg,

20 August 2018                                                                 20 August 2018

Friday, August 17, 2018

Drug prevention is an empworing process...Quick fixing is Dangrous

“This is no quick fix. There is no band-aid big enough for this life.” ---Daniel Abbott, The Concrete

The story of an 18-year-old Shubam is a classic example of what is happening to our youth today and an eye-opener for us, especially parents. Shubam was a sincere student and loved by all at home and school. He was the only child of doting parents, who put him in a leading school and provided him all facilities. A car ferried him to school and back, he had private tutors at home who helped him with his homework and his parents left no stone unturned to keep him happy. But they never spoke to him about various life skills and soft skills needed by the youth today. They never taught him how to be emotionally strong and assertive. They never spoke of peer pressure, drugs and good behaviour. They loved him, but hardly communicated all this to him because they did not know this was important.

Shubam passed out of school with good grades and got admission in an Engineering college away from his hometown. He shifted to the hostel and then started his woes. He started his college life with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. He had good and hard working friends initially but gradually he fell into bad company and his academic performance started dwindling.

He was often spotted in local pubs smoking, drinking and dancing with his girlfriends and peers. He was a bit hesitant about this life style initially but with no one to guide him, he gave in to peer pressure and started liking his new friends and their way of living. They had late night parties and missed classes. Shubam failed in his yearly exams but didn't tell his parents about this and they were blissfully unaware of the situation. By now his alcohol intake had increased considerably and he had problems concentrating and driving. He felt disoriented and once he drove his car fast and slammed it into another car leading to his arrest for negligent driving. His friends deserted him and his college suspended him. They reported this to his parents and asked them to intervene.

The parents were in a state of shock when they realised how bad and explosive the situation was, but it was too late for them to repent now. Shubam was diagnosed with alcohol addiction and sent to a rehab centre for treatment. Such cases are very common today and come to us everyday for counselling and help. The figures are staggering. About 190 million people all over the world consume one drug or the other. About100 people die daily from drug overdose. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years.

Substance abuse is the abuse of any chemical substance(both legal and illegal drugs) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to himself or to others.

Youth take drugs due to various reasons. Peer pressure makes them want to be accepted and fit in with his/her peers. They feel good by using the drugs, which interact with the neurochemistry of the brain. They also use substances to fight stress or depression because they feel these drugs will lessen their distress. They use them as a maladaptive coping strategy for stress management. Some think that the substances will improve their performance and they will fare better in the competitions they have to face.

Adolescents try to experiment and while the assertive youth stop after their initial trials, the emotionally weaker ones fall prey to this malady. They learn it from the social media and movies where the heroes who smoke and drink are appreciated. Some learn it from their parents whom they have seen consuming these at home.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) indicates the following risk factors for developing drug abuse problems (typically seen in adolescence):

•             Unstable home environment, often due to drug abuse or mental illness of the parent

•             Poor relationship with parents

•             Inadequate supervision over adolescent's activities

•             Use of drugs by friends / peers

•             Permissive attitude towards their own drug use and the drug use of the adolescent

•             Behavioural problems combined with poor parenting

•             Poor achievement in school

•             Apparent ambivalence or approval of drug use in the school, peer group or community

•             Availability of drugs in the community, peer group or home

NIDA continues to use the term “addiction” to describe compulsive drug seeking despite negative consequences. It is a brain disorder.

Drug Addiction indicates a psychological or physical dependence on the drug to function and is characterised by the person developing compulsions, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms .

Addiction is a developmental chronic disease and it usually begins in childhood or adolescence and continues thereafter. In cases of addiction changes have been found in the brain’s natural inhibition and reward centers,  and these stop a person from exerting any control on the impulse to take drugs, even when he knows that there are negative consequences like stigma and social disapproval attached to its use.

Addiction can affect us negatively in many ways. The short term effects include changes in appetite, wakefulness, heart rate, blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, psychosis, overdose, and even death. These health effects may occur after just one use. The long term effects can include heart or lung disease, cancer, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and addictions.Sometimes  we face Social Stigma, unemployment, housing, relationships and criminal cases against the abusers.

•             When we see sudden changes in an adolescent's behavior, like aggression or hostility for no apparent reason—or is withdrawn,excessively tired or depressed- it should be a wake-up call for the parents. Carelessness in daily grooming habits, decline in academic performance, missing classes, loss of interest in favourite activities, changes in eating or sleeping habits, deteriorating relations with family members and friends,spending or asking for more pocket money and signs of syringes or unknown medicine strips or cigarette stubs with the person are some of the signs of substance abuse.


The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary by the adolescent. Children should be empowered to say no to drugs in the initial stage itself. Children should be psycho-educated and empowered with adaptive coping skills, assertive skills, resilience skills and taught to have high self-esteem so that they can say no to drugs.

Parents need to recognise that their child is not behaving as he or she normally does. If he is taking drugs, then they should find out the underlying cause for this. There could also be an associated mental health or medical disorder.

A proper medical and mental checkup with all investigations is a must. Parents who are unable to understand the problem should take professional help from a trained psychologist.

If a child is already taking drugs immediate professional help and counselling is needed. Drug addiction is also preventable and manageable with medical help and professional counselling. It is a more difficult and lengthy procedure and consumes a lot of time, effort and money. Support of the family is very important.

(The writer is a neuro-psychologist and CBSE counsellor)

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