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September 2019

Addiction. 1995 Jan; 90(1): 9-12; discussion 13-21.

An ethnographic account of opium consumers of Rajasthan (India): socio-medical perspective.

Ganguly KK, Sharma HK, Krishnamachari KA.

Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi.

This communication gives an ethnographic account of 200 opium users in selected villages of three Western districts in the desert state of Rajasthan. The region is known for its traditional use of raw opium in the form of amal or doda, due to its climate and difficult living conditions. The ethnographic information suggests that opium use is in many ways integrated into the socio-cultural fabric of the local community. Self-medication with opium mitigates various health problems and the drug is also used to relieve mental distress. Besides these uses for relief of distress, the drug is used recreationally and within settings which facilitate social bonding. The traditional roles ascribed to the use of this intoxicant cannot be dismissed when formulating long-term preventive and control measures.

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