Drug Overdose Deaths Have Tripled In Russia Since 2012

By McCarton Ackerman 07/09/14

The country's drug epidemic has worsened in recent years and their leadership seems content to continue doing nothing about it.

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Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) has revealed an epidemic within the country, with drug overdose deaths tripling since 2012.

More than 100,000 people now reportedly die annually in Russia as a result of overdoses. Many of the country’s eight million drug addicts are also in their teens and twenties. Olga Mishina, deputy head of the FSKN, said that “among the 108,700 people convicted of drug-related crimes in 2013, 66% were between the ages of 18 and 29, and another 2,100 were minors.” Approximately 250,000 drug crimes are investigated each year in Russia, but that is a fraction of the reported one billion drug sales that occur annually.

Despite this, however, the bulk of the country’s addicts have no access to rehab or even outpatient treatment. The few state-run rehab centers that do exist reportedly lack proper medication and do not offer psychological counseling. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law last November that allowed courts to send addicts for mandatory treatment, but there is often no place to actually send them.

The FSKN announced plans earlier this year to create a system of communes to treat addicts, but drug counselors throughout Russia remain skeptical these plans will be followed through on. "Sometimes it seems that the Federal Drug Control Service just says these things every few months to remind people that they exist," said Anya Sarang, president of the Andrei Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice. "For five years now, they have been in charge of this program [to develop a national rehabilitation system] and they have not managed to do even the most basic things required.”

A handful of private centers do exist in Russia, but they are cost-prohibitive for most in the country. Adelvez, a rehab and detox clinic in Moscow, offers services which start at roughly $230 per night and monthly services can cost up to $18,000 per month.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.