Sunder and Geetika Yadav’s (names changed) world came crashing down just two years into their marriage. The husband’s gutka addiction drove a wedge between the couple, forcing them to go their separate ways.
Doctors say gutka affects not only a person’s health but also his/her social and family lives.
Dr Shubhangi Parker, deputy dean (academics), KEM Hospital, says there are many a marital discord arising out of a spouse’s gutka addiction.
“Couples fighting because of the husband’s gutka-chewing habit is very common problem related to gutka addiction. Relations can get strained further if the husband continues to be in denial mode over gutka not having any ill-effect on his health.”
Referring to the Yadavs’ case, Dr Parker says, “It started with the wife asking her husband to quit chewing gutka. She didn’t like the smell. The husband kept promising that he would quit it in his own time. Soon, the wife started nagging him and taunting him, which affected their relationship.”
Addiction to gutka also leads to impotency and infertility. Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist at LH Hiranandani Hospital, says, “Break-ups are most common with people addicted to gutka. Women don’t like to kiss a gutka-chewing person. It directly affects the addicted person’s level of intimacy with another.”
He adds that some people look down upon such addicts and consider gutka addiction worse than alcoholism. “There are hygiene and cleanliness issues involved. People don’t like to sit next to a gutka-chewer while eating. Such people’s social lives take a beating since they are rejected both within and outside their families.”
Doctors bust the myths that gutka addicts can quit any time they want and that gutka is a safer bet than other tobacco products.
“An addict is always in denial mode. He avoids any discussion on his addiction and is often aggressive. Such people need counselling and family support to kick the habit,” says Dr Parker. She hopes that the ban on gutka and paan masala enforced in the state will save many relationships.