There are significant drug problems in Russia with between 3-6 million of the population of 143 million being regular drug users. Russia is at the crossroads of Asian and European drug trade routes. This means that many of the cities and towns of the country have serious problems with both the drug trade and drug addiction.
The majority of drug users in Russia are intravenous drug users and the most popular drugs are heroin and methamphetamine. Lack of education, access to clean injecting equipment, accessible health services and networks of supports means that there are high rates of HIV, Hepatitis and other drug-related health problems.
Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of people within Russia. This chronic disease is particularly deadly in the land that is known for its love of hard spirits such as vodka and potent homemade alcohol. Young people are drinking alcohol at younger ages, the health consequences are becoming more serious and law enforcement officials are struggling to deal with the devistation caused by alcohol abuse.
Alcohol and drug addiction are considered chronic diseases that affects people worldwide. People who suffer with drug and alcohol dependence often face serious health consequences as a result of their addiction, struggle to overcome their problem, will relapse regularly and face painful detoxification and withdrawals when stopping their drug or alcohol use. In Russia, drug and alcohol abuse is seen as a personal failing and the health care system plus law enforcement see that the sole blame can be placed on the individual for not succeeding at kicking their habit.
Public and private treatments offered to drug or alcohol addicts in Russia are typically harsh, painful and brutal with very little adequate support or health care provided. When entering into a detoxification program, patients are requred to be registered as substance abusers on a national register which will then continue to monitor them for years after their program. Proven medical treatments for addiction such as Methadone are considered ineffective by officials and are illegal to use or posses in Russia.
Rehabilitaton and treatment programs are typically voluntary placements that individuals have the right to choose where to go and when to go. This can cause some problems for friends, families and law enforcement officials when dealing with a problem drug or alcohol abuser. However, in the case of many of the treatment facilities in Russia, individuals are able to be forcibly committed to treatment by family or law enforcement.
Once enrolled in a treatment program, many patients will be forced to detoxify from the drugs in isolation, without medical treatment and with brutal restrictions. The aim of the treatments is to toughen an addict against abusing drugs and to rid the body of the substance. This means that a person will be forced to detoxify, forced to go through a time of being quarrantined away from friends and family and to be made to perform menial tasks and exercise without support. Patients are usually fed a diet low in nutritional value and forced to have no contact with the outside world. Essentially, rehabilitation is a prison sentence until they are completely clean.
City Without Drugs is an NGO that works in the drug prevention and rehabilitation field in Russia. It was established in 1998 and initially worked on prevention, education, support and harm minimization projects for the many young people who were struggling with drug addiction. Despite the dedication and hard work of City Without Drugs, there was very little change to the drug problem in the regions it worked, especially Ekaterrinburg where drug related problems were very high. The organisation changed the direction of its work to a more aggressive strategy that involved working with law enforcement officials to bring addicts and dealers to their attention.
City Without Drugs is one of the most infamous providers of treatment for drug addicts within Russia. It is known to brutally treat patients includiing handcuffing patients to beds, holding them against their will and not giving appropriate medical attention to drug abusers.
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