‘He was trapped in his own web’—Dependent drinking as a poverty trap: A qualitative study from Goa, India

Jaclyn Schess, Sonali Kumar, Richard Velleman, Achyuta Adhvaryu, Abhijit Nadkarni

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Introduction and Aims: Of the Indian population, 2.7% have alcohol dependence, the most severe of alcohol use disorders. Alcohol use disorders have previously been found to be correlated with a range of negative economic outcomes, but dependent drinking has yet to be causally identified as a poverty trap. We use qualitative data as the first step towards identifying the mechanisms that may underlie a dependent drinking driven poverty trap in India. Design and Methods: Thirty-six in-depth interviews were conducted and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Participants were men having probable alcohol dependence (n = 11), doctors (n = 13) who come into contact with patients presenting with alcohol dependence at government hospitals and clinics, and family members of men with probable alcohol dependence (n = 12) in Goa, India. Results: Our key findings showed that families of those who have alcohol dependence have less opportunity for saving, more job instability and poor treatment opportunity to aid recovery and allow escaping from the trap. Discussion and Conclusions: Households in Goa, India with a member with alcohol dependence display patterns consistent with a poverty trap, though the mechanisms derived from these qualitative data need to be further demonstrated by longitudinal quantitative data to corroborate a causal relationship between alcohol use disorders and poverty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-720
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number6
Early online date31 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2020


  • alcohol dependence
  • alcohol use disorder
  • poverty trap
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)


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