Tag Archives: drug abuse

Fatal Drug Overdoses Have Tripled In Russia Since 2012, Reaching 100,000 Per Year

Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service announced some chilling statistics on Russian drug use this past Monday.

The most frightening data was on the number of fatal drug overdoses per year in the country. Last year, that number climbed over 100,000, making it nearly three times higher than it was in 2012.

The Service also announced that of the 108,700 people convicted of drug-related crimes last year, 66% were between the ages of 19-29, and another 2% were minors.

Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service

Russia has the highest population of injecting drug users (IDUs) in the world at 1.8 million. A third of these IDUs are HIV positive and a whopping 90% have Hepatitis C.

To make the problem worse, Russia’s drug treatment programs are woefully inadequate. Many people open businesses masquerading as treatment center while using arcane “treatments” like flogging, starvation, and electric shock among others.

Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service has also admitted that more than 90% of Russians who check into a treatment center are using drugs again within a year.

A large portion of the intravenous drug users are addicted to heroin or other opioids. These drugs are derived from the poppy plant.

One factor that has contributed to the increasing use of these drugs is an increase in poppy production in Afghanistan.

Poppy production in Afghanistan. Click to enlarge

Cultivating poppies that can be processed into opium or heroin has been a lucrative business in Afghanistan since the 90s. But when the Taliban took power in 2001, the militant group outlawed the growing of poppies, reducing production to almost zero.

Since the U.S. invasion however, there has been a rapid resurgence of opium production in Afghanistan. Last year saw the highest poppy production in Afghanistan in the past 20 years. The level of production was nearly 3 times higher than the average levels before the Taliban’s time in power.

This flood of poppies means cheaper prices for opium and heroin manufacturers and consequently cheaper prices for users, not to speak of the increase in availability.

About a quarter of the heroin manufactured in Afghanistan in 2010 ended up in Russia, and that percentage has only been rising in the past 3 years.

Click to enlarge

Though many people, like Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia’s Drug Control Service, like to blame U.S. involvement in Afghanistan for Russia’s drug problems, this simply isn’t the full story.

Heroin use has actually been on the rise in Russia since the early 90s, when the fall of the Soviet Union left high levels of unemployment and poverty across the country.

In the decade between 1994 and 2004, the total number of drug users in Russia rose an astounding 900%. The war in Afghanistan and the subsequent boom in the poppy supply has only poured gasoline on a problem that was already burning out of control.

Read the original story from RBTH here. Read more about drug abuse in Russia from DrugWarFacts.org here.

Soldiers Who Kill In Combat Are LESS Likely to Abuse Alcohol? Yes, According to This Study

Going to war is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone could ever imagine enduring. Every year, hundreds of soldiers return home from combat with serious cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Struggling to re-adjust back into civilian society while simultaneously trying to cope with the psychological side-effects of being exposed to combat often leads war veterans to abuse alcohol and other drugs.

Click to enlarge

But a new study co-authored by Cristel Russell, a marketing professor with American University’s Kogod School of Business, and researchers from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research suggests that soldiers who actually kill in combat are in fact less likely to abuse alcohol after being discharged.

Here’s Russell talking about the results of the study:

“We were very surprised by the findings. Most previous research supported the prediction that more traumatic experiences would lead to more negative health outcomes, such as alcohol abuse. We found the opposite- that the most traumatic experiences of killing in combat actually led to a decrease in alcohol abuse post-deployment.”

Cirstel Russell, co-author of the study (Image courtesy of American University)

So why is it that taking the life of another, arguably the most traumatic thing a soldier can experience, leads to a smaller likelihood of alcohol abuse?

The researchers believe that the strange finding is the result of mortality salience. The theory is basically that taking the life of another human being increases a soldier’s sense of their own mortality and vulnerability, making them less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors. Here’s Russell again:

“We reason that a possible explanation may be that soldiers who experience killing during combat become more aware of their own vulnerability to death. Mortality salience is known to have effects on decisions that people make including, in our case, the decision to not take risks and abuse alcohol, presumably to live longer.”

To collect the data, the researchers surveyed 1,397 troops from an Army National Guard Infantry Brigade Combat Team three months before and after their deployment between 2005-2006. The surveys, answered anonymously, asked the soldiers questions about their substance use, with questions about combat experiences added to the post-deployment questionnaire.

The survey revealed that overall, alcohol use increased from 70.8% pre-deployment to 80.5% afterwards, and alcohol abuse increased by over 125%, from 8.51% to 19.15% post-deployment.

Russell and her team plan to do more research into how mortality salience effects soldiers’ behavior after they return from war.

Read more from the Parent Herald here.

Americans Think 75% of Politicians Are Corrupted and 70% Use Their Power To Hurt Their Enemies

Recently, the Reason-Rupe polling organization conducted a poll to gauge Americans’ views on US politicians’ morality…or lack thereof.

The poll results revealed that people think that 75% of US politicians are corrupted by campaign donations and lobbyists and 70% use their power not only to help their personal friends but to hurt their enemies. Many believe the increasing disapproval of politicians is due to the “House of Cards” syndrome, referring to Netflix’ hit series about the dark side of the political game. This may very well play a factor, but how significant a factor is hard to tell. It sure isn’t helping Congress’s image- their approval rating is at 17%.

Another interesting insight gained from the poll is how much different acts of immorality affect how we perceive a politician’s character. Surprisingly enough, the most unforgivable transgression was bullying.

A whopping 70% of people said they would be “most bothered” by finding out a politician had bullied someone using their political power, while 14% would be “most bothered” by a politician using drugs and only 11% saying they would be “most bothered” by a politician cheating on a spouse.

This video goes into more depth on the survey’s findings:

Why Is the UK Including $16.6 Billion in Illegal Prostitution and Drug Dealing in Their GDP?

Great Britain’s Office for National Statistics is set to confirm that the country makes about £10 billion ($16.6 billion USD) from prostitution and drug dealing per year. According to the Huffington Post,

“The [new] EU rules require members to record the value of certain illegal activities in the nation’s GDP, including the ‘production and consumption of drugs’ as well as prostitution, in order to ensure consistent economic comparisons between member states and a fair distribution of the EU’s £120 billion EU budget.”

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Britain’s prostitution is valued at around £3 billion (~$5 billion USD); their illegal drug industry is valued at about £7 billion (~$11.6 billion USD).

So why is the EU doing this? Well for one, prostitution and recreational drugs are legal and regulated in countries like The Netherlands, so making other countries report these figures gives them a better, more complete comparison.

Also, by making these countries include prostitution and illegal drugs in their GDP, they provide an incentive for the countries to reduce these activities.

Higher GDPs mean a smaller cut of the EU’s £120 billion (~$200 billion USD) budget, so the more a country can minimize these illegal and/or unregulated activities, the more they can get from the EU.

Read the full story from the Huffington Post here.

Feature image courtesy of TotallyCoolPix.com