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Natl Med J India. 2013 Jul-Aug;26(4):203-9.

Nature, prevalence and risk factors of alcohol use in an urban slum of Southern India.

Author information

  • 1University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA 92092, USA.
  • 2Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, USA.
  • 3Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India - Low Cost Effective Care Unit.
  • 4Department of Psychiatry.



There is a paucity of data on the use of alcohol in urban slums of southern India.


We screened 2811 men for alcohol use via a household-level census in an urban slum in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, and interviewed 220 age- and area-matched pairs of men drinkers and non-drinkers to examine factors associated with alcohol use. Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), a standard instrument, was used to assess risk levels of drinking of 354 drinkers. Prevalence rates were calculated using age- adjusted direct standardization. Odds ratios (ORs) of drinking status and higher-risk drinking were calculated using conditional logistic regression and ordinal logistic regression, respectively.


Among all men, we estimated that 46.1% consumed alcohol and 31.4% were hazardous drinkers (19% increased-risk, 7.7% high-risk and 4.7% dependent drinkers). Factors associated with alcohol use were: manual labour occupations (OR 2.08); presence of a common mental disorder (OR 1.50) and smoking (OR 2.08); while Muslim religion was protective (OR 0.43). Factors associated with higher-risk alcohol use were: being reported as a non-drinker during the census (OR 3.96); presence of a common mental disorder (OR 3.83); smoking (OR 1.78); drinking before legal age of 21 years (OR 2.71); spending more than `100 per day on alcohol (OR 6.17); and mainly drinking Indian-made foreign liquor (OR 5.45).


High prevalence of hazardous drinking and the factors associated with it suggest the need for population- wide interventions and further investigations to effectively reduce hazardous alcohol use and its harmful effects.

Copyright 2013, NMJI.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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