Characteristics of patients using psychoactive drugs in Karachi, Pakistan

Niloufer Sultan Ali, Aga Khan University
Ali Khan Khuwaja, Aga Khan University
Abdul Moeed Zafar, Aga Khan University


Objectives: To assess the distribution of various characteristics related to use of psychoactive drugs and the differences by gender. Method: A case-series study was conducted at the out-Patient clinic affiliated with a teaching hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. After taking consent to participate, 118 adult Patients who visited these clinics for consultation for any reason and were taking psychoactive drug(s) were interviewed. Results: Over 40% of the study subjects were taking psychoactive drugs without an advice from their doctor. In all, 78% were taking psychoactive drugs for > 6 months and 67% were using these drugs on a regular basis. Over 85% were using these for induction of sleep and 59% for relaxation. Seventy-five percent of study participants reported that they can afford these pills and over 46% were able to get these drugs easily, significantly more men compared to women (58% vs. 39%, difference of proportion = -19.7, 95% CI = -37, -1.5). All other studied characteristics were equally distributed among men and women. Conclusion: In this study a substantial number of cases were using psychoactive drugs without doctors' advice. Patient education and health awareness sessions may be helpful in preventing inappropriate use of psychotropic drugs.