For most of the people in the world, it is common that Russia has a significant problem about alcoholism. According to a research, there are 2.2 million alcoholics, 700.000 alcohol related-deaths, 160.000 diagnosed with psychosis. Drug abuse is nearly same level with alcoholism. It is a growing problem for Russia. National Institute on Drug Abuse says that “some researches estimate that there are between 4-6 million people who use drugs regularly”. In other words, the drug abuse has risen up to 40 percent. The rate is not the highest rate in the world but the upsurge of drug abuse in Russia is troublesome problem for Russia. Before the USSR, the rates were not concerning. Now, Russia has had the world’s fastest growing drug trafficking and abuse problem since millenium. Well, there is an important question for this increase in drug abuse. Why have the rates risen so much?
(As you can see from the statistics above, Russia’s mortality rate from drugs is very ahead of European countries. This statistics stands at 10.2 per 100.000 people).
One of the most important reasons of these high rates of drug abuse in Russia is that there is no effective drug policy. Policies can affect humans’ lives directly or indirectly through the reproduction of social suffering. Ezhi who has been a social worker for the Andrey Rylkov foundation for five years says that “Russia wants to be strong and powerful, drug users do not suit that image and therefore seem to be ignored for the sake of ideal. There is an enormous stigma. Most people think we are animals. They think we are spoiled. They do not see an addiction as a clinical condition but they believe that we are bad people, criminals, who deserve to suffer.” The saying shows that Russia’s current drug policy does not help to drug addicts and to reduce the drug abuse. There’s anti-drug legislation and Russian Criminal Code contains big fines and imprisonment for those who make, buy, keep and sell drugs illegally. For example, the fine for a small amount of marijuana (up to 6 grams) will be up to 570€, for up to 2,5 grams of meth one will go to jail for 3 up to 10 years. If one is caught with keeping drugs in large amounts (like more than 500 grams of morphine or more than 1500 grams of coke) they can get from 10 to 15 years in prison. However, Russia’s drug policy doesn’t work the way it should because of the corruption. The other reason is that there is no effective rehabilitation program available in Russia. Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation acknowledged that over 90% patients start to use drugs within a year. Because of the government’s ineffective approach to the drug users, number of drug users do not show significant move. Shortly, the drug addicts in Russia do not have a place to go for treatment and the drug policies do not work properly in Russia.
Drug abuse in Russia is an important and concerning problem for the youth. The rates are very high and it causes a lot of problems. Therefore, this problem should not be ignored. For Russian people, the key is education. Anya Radul from AEGEE-Rostov-na-Donu says that “When you show people the real effects that drugs have on a person’s mind and body, when you teach children that soft drugs aren’t really cool. Besides, proper help and rehab for those unlucky ones who have addiction to make sure they can go on living without drugs. And of course fair system of punishment so that everybody knows they can’t get away with selling/distributing. In general, I tend to believe that happy people wouldn’t like to use any dope – so why not try to improve the overall living standard?”. Shortly, in order to help to the drug addicts in Russia and reducing the rates of drug abuse in Russia, we as young people of Europe should raise awareness and take an action!
Special thanks to Ayna Radul, Marlene Rene, Timon Turban for helping to the research.