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Correlates of opium use: retrospective analysis of a survey of tribal communities in Arunachal Pradesh, India

Himanshu K Chaturvedi1*, Jagadish Mahanta2, Ram C Bajpai1 and Arvind Pandey1

Author affiliations

1 National Institute of Medical Statistics, ICMR, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India

2 Regional Medical Research Centre, N. E. Region, Dibrugarh, Assam, India

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:325  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-325

Published: 10 April 2013



Household survey data of Changlang district, Arunachal Pradesh, were used in the present study to assess the prevalence of opium use among different tribes, and to examine the association between sociodemographic factors and opium use.


A sample of 3421 individuals (1795 men and 1626 women) aged 15 years and older was analyzed using a multivariate logistic regression model to determine factors associated with opium use. Sociodemographic information such as age, education, occupation, religion, ethnicity and marital status were included in the analysis.


The prevalence of opium use was significantly higher (10.6%) among men than among women (2.1%). It varied according to age, educational level, occupation, marital status and religion of the respondents. In both sexes, opium use was significantly higher among Singpho and Khamti tribes compared with other tribes. Multivariate logistic regression indicated that opium use was significantly associated with age, occupation, ethnicity, religion and marital status of the respondents of both sexes. Multivariate rate ratios (MRR) for opium use were significantly higher (4–6 times) among older age groups (≥35 years) and male respondents. In males, the MRR was also significantly higher in respondents of Buddhist and Indigenous religion, while in females, the MRR was significantly higher in Buddhists. Most of the female opium users had taken opium for more than 5 years and were introduced to it by their husbands after marriage. Use of other substances among opium users comprised mainly tobacco (76%) and alcohol (44%).


The study reveals the sociodemographic factors, such as age, sex, ethnicity, religion and occupation, which are associated with opium use. Such information is useful for institution of intervention measures to reduce opium use.

Drug abuse; Epidemiology; Ethnic factors; India; Opium; Sex factors