To review the burden of alcohol use in India, examine current policy initiatives and programs specific to India and provide a roadmap for future actions.
A literature search was undertaken to review available published research papers, unpublished reports and anecdotal media information in the period 2000–2020 to assess the burden and pattern of alcohol use and appraise alcohol control policies in India.
The per‐capita alcohol consumption among individuals aged 15+ years was 5.7 L, which increased over time. Prevalence of alcohol use varied across states with considerable impact on the nation. Regulatory policies and alcohol control programs vary across Indian states, with poor enforcement and implementation. Taxation and pricing policies are revenue oriented. Policies are needed to address the aggressive and innovative marketing strategies of the alcohol industry. The system for regular monitoring of alcohol burden and conducting alcohol policy analysis needs strengthening.
Alcohol use and its public health impact would continue to increase in India in the absence of effective policy and programs; the country may not achieve its stated goal of relative reduction of alcohol use prevalence by 10% by 2025.
The prevailing alcohol control policies and programs in India have been less than fully effective in controlling the burden of alcohol use and its associated impact. There is a need for comprehensive, evidence‐based and consensus‐driven national alcohol control policy to appropriately guide and support the Indian states in regulating alcohol and reducing the associated burden. Effective implementations of such policies are central to its success.