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Cover page of the Journal of Health Sciences
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 130-136

Does a ban on liquor sales benefit alcohol dependence patients? A study on usage and procurement of alcohol during the COVID-19 lockdown

Department of Psychiatry, Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Kelambakkam, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kailash Sureshkumar
Department of Psychiatry, Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Kelambakkam, Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/kleuhsj.kleuhsj_489_22

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BACKGROUND: Restricting the availability of alcohol in “dry states” and during the COVID-19 lockdown reveal illegal trading and consumption of illicit liquor leading to deaths and use of alternate harmful substances. The current study aims to fill the gaps in the literature to study alcohol usage and its procurement during its complete ban of sale. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional study of purposively sampled alcohol-dependent patients (n = 62) was conducted in an OPD setting, comparing two time periods: before and during total lockdown 2020. After reinforcing confidentiality and privacy, data were collected and analyzed. RESULTS: Alcohol usage during the lockdown was positively related to severity of alcohol dependence syndrome (r = 0.67, P = 0.00), quantity of alcohol consumed (r = 0.59, P = 0.00), and its cost of procurement (r = 0.43, P = 0.00) before lockdown. During the lockdown, the proportion of consuming alcohol more than or equal to 90 units weekly significantly decreased (Pearson Chi-square = 4.12, P = 0.04) and their predicting factors are rural residential location, moderate-income bracket, low socioeconomic class, and severe alcohol dependence. Furthermore, a significant increase in the proportion of procuring alcohol from the black market or used illicit liquor was observed (Fisher's exact test P = 0.00) with higher odds being associated with illegal procurement before lockdown (odds ratio = 22.00; 95% confidence interval = 3.93–123.28; P = 0.00). Increased use of alternate substances such as nicotine (37.1%) and cannabis (9.7%) during the lockdown was also observed. CONCLUSION: Although alcohol consumed did not significantly differ, illegal sources and money spent on procurement increased during the lockdown. Thus, a legal ban of liquor sales did not benefit alcohol dependence patients, and such restriction availability strategies may benefit from health awareness, treatment, and psychosocial support.

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