Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 369–372 | Cite as

Characteristics of patients using psychoactive drugs in Karachi, Pakistan

  • Niloufer Sultan Ali
  • Ali Khan KhuwajaEmail author
  • Abdul Moeed Zafar
Short Research Report


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.


Drug usage Psychoactive drugs Out-patient clinics Pakistan 



We are grateful to the management staff of all the study clinics for their permission to conduct the study and their help throughout the study period. We are very much indebted to all patients who agreed to participate in the study. We are thankful to Mr. Iqbal Azam (Assistant Professor, department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University) for his valuable feedback on the manuscript. We would also like to acknowledge Mr. Karim Rehmani for helping in data editing and cleaning.


No funding received.

Conflicts of interest

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niloufer Sultan Ali
    • 1
  • Ali Khan Khuwaja
    • 2
    Email author
  • Abdul Moeed Zafar
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineAga Khan UniversityKarachiPakistan
  2. 2.Department of Community Health SciencesAga Khan UniversityKarachiPakistan
  3. 3.Aga Khan UniversityKarachiPakistan

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