The number of Goan teens drinking alcohol has increased by three times in the last three decades, according to recent research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Findings of the research done by Dr Aravind Pillai from School of Public Health at Columbia University along with four other researchers show that while 19.5% of male teens born between 1956 and 1960 consumed alcohol, this figure rose to 74.3% for those who were born between 1981-1985.
Pillai and his team did his research in Goa, the beach paradise known for its parties and siesta-loving locals. They asked 2,000 men in the age group of 20-49 years about the age at which they first started drinking alcohol, their quantity of consumption and whether they had sustained any injuries as a result of their drinking.
The study found that taking to alcohol at an early age increased risk of life-long dependance on alcohol. Also, it increased the chances of developing psychological distress later in their life. Such people were three times as likely to have sustained injuries because of their drinking. These findings are in line with results of similar research in high-income countries, according to the researchers.
The researchers describe their findings as “alarming”.
The findings are in line with the nation-wide trend. A report by Times of India in 2012 said underage drinking is on the rise in India.
Psychologists say children start drinking alcohol out of curiosity or at times trying to imitate their parents. Add to that the easy accessibility of liquor stores and increasing personal allowances that parents give to their children.
By law, a person who is 25 years-old or above is allowed to drink alcohol in most Indian states. In Goa, the age limit is 18. However, by and large, the law is poorly implemented.
India’s alcohol consumption patterns have also been changing. Recent data from International Wine and Spirits Research show that yearly growth in volumes of whiskey—India’s favourite liquor—has been falling since 2010.
In terms of volumes, India is one of the largest alcohol markets in the world.
According to the latest NSSO sample survey, rural Indian households spend Rs16.45 a month on average on alcohol. Urban Indian households, on the other hand, spend Rs16.29 a month on an average.