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WHO South East Asia J Public Health. 2014 Apr-Jun;3(2):186-189. doi: 10.4103/2224-3151.206735.

Psychoactive substance use by psychiatric patients in the National Referral Hospital, Bhutan: a retrospective analysis.

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Psychiatric Ward, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Thimphu, Bhutan.



The costs to the individual and to society of psychoactive substance use is of growing concern in Bhutan. This study aimed to assess the relation between the demographic variables of patients admitted to the National Referral Hospital for first-time detoxification and the psychoactive substances used.


The demographic variables and types of psychoactive substance used by 284 substance users were reviewed. Data were collected through patients' history sheets and admission registers, and analysed through descriptive statistics, one-way analysis of variance and independent t test.


The commonest psychoactive substance used was alcohol, followed by cannabis, nitrazepam, dextropropoxyphene, glue (inhaled) and chlorphenamine/ pseudoephedrine/codeine-containing cough syrup. Only 14% of participants were aged 45 years or older. Most patients used more than one substance; the mean number of psychoactive substances used was highest among males, individuals aged 15-24 years and those who were unemployed.


Among patients admitted for first-time detoxification, harmful use of alcohol is the most common, followed by cannabis and illicit prescription drugs. Preventive measures should be prioritized on a need-based strategy. The findings of this study indicate that some of these preventive measures should be focused on males, unemployed groups and youth, and should involve raising awareness of harmful use of substances and the services available to treat substance use disorders.

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