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Russia revives sobering-up stations

March 13, 2014, 19:01 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Alexandra Krasnova

MOSCOW, March 13. /ITAR-TASS/. The immediate future of a person who turned up at a public place heavily drunk was predetermined in the Soviet Union, as police brought him to a sobering-up station. Then the whole country was covered with a network of these institutions, subordinate to the police. Sobering rooms had the ill fame as drunken people were not only sobered there, but also beaten frequently. Therefore, the attitude to these institutions was negative in the post-Soviet Russia, and the number of such stations was on the decline.

All sobering-up stations in Russia have been closed by 2011, and the functions of sobering people were passed from police to medical institutions. However, drunks did not disappear, and people remembered drying-out stations. Many experts propose to revive a system of sobering-up stations, making them more comfortable and guaranteeing observance of rights of drunken people who were brought there.

Prospects for restoring sobering-up stations were discussed at the press center of Parlamentskaya Gazeta weekly (Parliamentary Newspaper) on Wednesday. As a matter of fact, their revival is already a settled issue. Lawmakers should only specify details and decide who will fund the process of sobering.

Head of the department of narcological aid and legal foundations of narcology of federal budget-financed National Scientific Center of Narcology of the Russian Health Ministry Boris Tselinsky recalled that an ambulance should “take and bring” a boozed person to a proper place. Most frequently, this is a reception ward of a local hospital. However, medical personnel are not prepared to work with such people, as drunken people raise the devil, scare patients and medical personnel. Experts say that people should not be taken to hospital most often, as it is just enough for them to sleep themselves sober somewhere.

From 30 to 40% of Russian residents abuse alcohol, chief psychiatrist-narcologist of the Ministry of Health and Social Development Yevgeny Bryun said earlier. Meanwhile, this problem is mostly acute in small towns, where people just do not have another way to involve themselves in some activity. Bryun elaborated that his agency opposed the closure of sobering-up stations, substantiating this position by the fact that a drunkard is primarily a violator of public order. Now medical workers have problems with hellbenders from time to time.

Sobering-up stations are already being revived in Russian regions. Special wards were opened at hospitals in some cities, for instance, Tomsk and Ryazan, and similar wards started working at narcological clinics in other cities. From 3,500 to 10,000 drunken Russians pass through them every year. But the country lacks a common approach to the settlement of this problem.

Sobering stations should reopen throughout the country, as members of the initiative group headed by chief of project “Sober Russia” Sultan Khamzaev had made this proposal at a round-table meeting. The specific bill is already drafted. Sobering-up stations are expected to be created on the basis of public-private partnership, as the state authorities should compensate 50% of medical service costs to medical providers or provide freely the premises to them for a clinic where paid services will be rendered.

According to official statistical reports, 700,000 Russians die of alcohol intoxication annually, including those who froze up to death in the streets in winter and those who did not receive medical detoxification aid timely. According to estimates of the Higher School of Economics, the death of an able-bodied person inflicts six million rubles of economic damages to the state. Meanwhile, services to one person at a sobering room will cost 3,000 rubles to the state, according to preliminary estimates. So, the project should also be profitable to the state, at least from the economic point of view.

The country’s Interior Ministry supported the initiative. After shutdown of sobering-up stations, the number of offences committed by drunken people had been growing, deputy head of the public order department of the country’s Interior Ministry Boris Larionov said.

How should these new modern sobering stations operate? According to the idea of the project’s authors, this should be a sobriety center set up on the basis of social security departments. A doctor and a policeman should work there compulsorily. Drunken Russians will be provided with wards equipped with beds and toilets as well as video monitoring systems.

Some offer to bring home immediately those who will be able to give their residence address. However, this idea will not take roots in Russia, as many wives do not want to let their drunk husbands home, Khamzaev noted.


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