A qualitative study of the risk and protective factors of substance abuse among the young adults of Nagaland, India

Philip Thomas Kizhakumpurath, Fordham University


This study is a qualitative inquiry with a phenomenological approach to understand the experiences of nine young Naga substance abusers and uncover the fundamental nature and structure of the phenomenon of the risk and protective factors. The study addressed the following questions: (a) what are personal, interpersonal, intra-personal, cultural and environmental risk factors that influenced their substance abuse and addiction; and (b) what are the protective factors that could prevent the current and future Naga youngsters from abusing substances? In order to provide multiple perspectives and to provide greater understanding of the findings, six counselors and two leaders were asked to share their view of the phenomenon of the risk and protective factors of substance abuse among the youth in Nagaland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the variables of their experience. The literature review provided psychological data on substance abuse relating to Nagas and non-Nagas. The etiology of substance abuse was examined through various psychological lenses including attachment system, social learning theory, peer cluster theory, deprivation neurosis and trauma's effect on the development of an addiction. These were useful in formulating the interview protocol as well as interpreting the data. The interview transcripts were analyzed through a systematic qualitative methodology. Significant statements were grouped and coded into meaning units, developing textural description of the experiences of the participants, and structural descriptions of the participant's experiences, especially the conditions, situations or context in which they experienced the phenomenon. A complete thematic exposition was written to analyze the salient themes and most common experiences regarding the risk factors. A cross examination of the Composite Description of the textural and structural descriptions which convey the meaning and essence of their experiences was prepared. The reviewed literature was then connected to the clinical material found through the research. The results of this study revealed multiple risk factors. The interpersonal, intra-personal and environmental factors such as, peer influence and acceptance, thrill and pleasure-seeking attitude, permissive parenting styles, prevalence of insecure attachment to the primary caregiver, deprivation of love and affirmation in childhood and adolescence, psychological deficits in the developmental process and childhood trauma, contributed to the individual's attraction to substances and to the ultimate abuse thereof. Drug and alcohol became their comfort, their confidant and their motivator. Finally, this study recommends the continuation, modification and supplementation of professional services to the addicts. In addition, culturally relevant services to the Naga population as a whole, and to parents, schools and churches in particular, are also recommended in this study as a means to provide intervention and prevention programs. Such suggestions are presented herein in the hope that future research, as well as clinical and scientific inquiries will continue to address the substance abuse and addiction among the young Naga adults.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|South Asian Studies

Recommended Citation

Kizhakumpurath, Philip Thomas, "A qualitative study of the risk and protective factors of substance abuse among the young adults of Nagaland, India" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3517900.