Socio-demographic characteristics of alcohol abusers in a rural Ijaw community in Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria
Background: Causal relationship has been established between alcohol and more than 60 types of disease and injury. Despite this, alcohol is still widely consumed in several communities in Nigeria, and sometimes considered a health tonic. This study described the pattern, prevalence, and factors associated with alcohol abuse in a typical Ijaw community, where alcohol is produced and consumed in large quantities. Materials and Methods: The study was carried out in Okoloba, a rural community in Bayelsa State, South-South Nigeria using an analytical cross-sectional study design. The data were collected from members of the community aged 16 to 65 years, using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test questionnaire and clinical examination for hepatomegaly, tongue tremor, and hand tremor. Results: A total of 322 subjects, comprising 166 men and 156 women were studied. They had an average age of 41.4 ± 2.5 years, were mostly farmers (43.17%), married (66.15%), and had at most primary school education (62.42%). More than 90% of the subjects took alcohol in the preceding year, with more of them (43%) preferring the locally produced drinks. About 33% of the subjects had harmful drinking, while 12.73% had alcohol dependence problem. There is no significant age difference between the alcohol abusers and abstainers/social drinkers (P > 0.05), but alcohol abusers were significantly more likely to be males (P < 0.001), in polygamous marriages (P < 0.00001), had lower educational status (P < 0.0001), likely to be practitioners of the traditional religion (P < 0.0001), and more likely to be engaged in palm wine tapping. Conclusion: Alcohol is widely consumed in the community, but the prevalence of abuse was moderate, mainly due to cultural restrictions. Sales restrictions might be needed as the drinking habits of members of the community change with urbanization.