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Experts say church can help in treatment of drug abuse

November 21, 2011, 22:01 UTC+3

Drug addiction increased by 20 percent in 20 years, but this growth occurred mainly in the 1990s

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MOSCOW, November 21 (Itar-Tass) —— The Healthy Youth Centre has suggested helping rehabilitate young drug users through communication with the church and art workers.

“Centres are the main structure of the organisation. Some of them provide spiritual orientation. Father Anatoly Berestov is responsible for this work,” Centre Head Nikita Lushnikov said at a press conference at Itar-Tass on Monday, November 21.

The second aspect of the centre’s work is a secular one that suggests rehabilitation through communication with actors, musicians and other art workers.

The organisation has about 50 rehabilitation centres in four countries: Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, and Germany. Thirty of them are in Russia. “We have about 500 people under rehabilitation programmes, and they have lots of friends who can also be at risk,” Lushnikov said.

“The main risk is that drugs have become so available in our country that one can get them anywhere,” he added.

According to official statistics, 547,081 people are registered at drug abuse clinics in Russia, and another 196,700 people are registered as potential drug users.

Unofficial data suggest that the actual number of drug users in Russia can be four to six times bigger. “A total of 7,192 people died from drug poisoning in 2010,” the minister said.

Minister of Health and Social Development Tatyana Golikova said earlier that 288 million roubles had been allocated for the renovation of drug abuse clinics in 16 regions. “The algorithm of assistance to such people should be determined by the end of the year, and if this work proves successful, we have a plan to extent this experience to the rest of the country in 2012-2014,” she said.

Director of Russia's Federal Service for Control of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (FSKN) Viktor Ivanov said that there are 20 percent more drug addicts in Russia than there were in the former Soviet Union.

“Drug addiction increased by 20 percent in 20 years, but this growth occurred mainly in the 1990s,” he said.

According to Ivanov, the number of drug addicts has practically not increased over the past ten years. “The number of drug users has increased by about 2 percent [in the 2000s]. But this cannot appease us because their number of very big, including those of heroin users,” he said.

Ivanov suggested creating eight new rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in regions that will use Orthodox values in their work.

According to statistics, 100,000 young people die in Russia from narcotics annually.

Ivanov believes that police measures alone cannot reverse the growing demand for drugs in post-Soviet Russia.

In his opinion, it is impossible to change the situation without the help of the Russian Orthodox Church that has the successful experience of rehabilitating drug addicts.

“It is critically important for us to make a breakthrough in the years to come. But it will be impossible to do without the Russian Orthodox Church,” he said.

There are rehabilitation centres for drug addicts organised by the church in Russia, but they need help from the authorities and their number should increase, Ivanov said.

“The state anti-drug committee suggests setting up a fund for support to social rehabilitation centres for drug addicts, and creating eight model centres in the federal districts on the basis of Orthodox values,” the official said.

Experts say that there are about 2.5 million drug addicts in Russia. About 600,000 drug users are registered at medical facilities.

Ivanov suggested creating a national system of rehabilitation for drug addicts in order to fight the spread of narcotics in Russia more effectively.

He said public organisations that treat drug addicts might get government grants next year.

Ivanov said this would require treatment standards to be worked out. “We need standards that have to be worked out at the federal level. Organisations that will work in accordance with these standards have to be supported by the government,” he said.

“In order to reduce the number of drug users, we have to create a full-fledged national system of rehabilitation for drug addicts in order to bring them back to society and re-socialise them,” Ivanov said.

He admitted that there is not enough help and support to drug addicts in Russia.

Ivanov believes that such support can have the form of governmental grants.

He recalled that the FSKN calls for a national anti-drug budget in Russia. “This budget will have room for support to non-governmental organisations engaged in rehabilitation,” he said.

Ivanov also hopes that regions, too, will support such centres.

According to Ivanov, there are around 600-700 non-governmental organisations in Russia that deal with this problem. “This basically means that there are up to ten of them in each region,” he added.

At the same time, he stressed that Russia had no plans to introduce compulsory treatment for drug addicts.

“If we make treatment compulsory, people will try to evade it. Besides, specialists believe that drug addiction cannot be cured by force,” he said.

“It is necessary to bring these people back to normal life because otherwise they will serve as a base for recruiting new drug dealers,” Ivanov said.


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