Alcohol Abuse in Russia

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Joe Bloe
Professor I.B Smart
BS 131
December XX, 2008

Alcohol Abuse in Russia

Family Issues

Russians drink more alcohol than any other nation in the world. (Halpin, 2007, p1) The Times of London reports that Russians are currently going on an alcoholic binge even by Russian standards. According to the country’s chief public health officer, Gennadi Onishenko, Russians are drinking nearly three times as much as they did sixteen years ago. Onishenko’s study was promulgated by the Russian equivalent of the consumer protection agency and it reported that at least 2.3 million people in Russia were alcoholics. The average Russian consumed 15 litres (26 pints) of pure alcohol per annum, up from 5.4 litres in 1990, and this phenomena is blamed for a rising rate of mortality among men. This compares to 8.4 litres for people in the United States and 7.6 litres in Japan. (Halpin, 2007 p 1)

Violent crime and alcohol consumption have increased throughout the Russian federation since the fall of the Soviet Union. This has shown harmful consequences for families and communities, as heavy alcohol drinking is closely associated with violent behavior in Russia. The correlation between heavy drinking and violence is a complicated mixture of physiological, psychological, situational, social and cultural elements. Whenever measures to control alcohol production and consumption have been introduced, reduced violence has occurred in Russia and elsewhere. (WHO, 2006)

Violence is a family’s worst enemy and may include physical and sexual assaults, mental or emotional abuse and neglect. It may also be categorized into interpersonal violence, child maltreatment or neglect, intimate partner violence within a relationship, sexual violence, abuse of the elderly or self-directed violence including suicide. (WHO, 2006)

There is ample evidence to support the relationship between heavy drinking and violence. In Russia, alcohol has been involved in three-quarters of homicide arrests. Families often bear the brunt of the violence that emanates from heavy drinking. In the Central Black-Earth Region of Russia, a study showed that 77% of violent crimes against family members involved drinking with 35% of these drinkers bingeing every day. Among male perpetrators of spousal homicide, 60–75% of offenders had been drinking before the incident. (WHO, 2006)

Alcohol abuse affects physical and cognitive functioning resulting in reduced self-control and the ability to process incoming information. This makes drinkers more apt to resort to violence to resolve conflicts. (Rand Corp., 2002)

Heavy drinking can impair parents’ responsibilities toward themselves and their children. Drinking also reduces the amount of time and money spent on their children, often neglecting the children’s basic needs. Alcohol abuse by either the parent or the child increases the child’s vulnerability to sexual abuse. Sometimes children are made to drink alcohol to facilitate sexual acts or involve them in child pornography. (WHO, 2006)

Alcohol abuse during pregnancy can result in children being born with fetal alcohol syndrome as well as health issues for the mother. Excessive drinking in a relationship can create problems with finances, childcare, infidelity or other stressors leading to potentially violent situations. (WHO, 2006)

Health Issues

Russians are suffering from a problem with demographic retention and a declining population base. Alcoholism is a leading cause in rising Russian mortality rates, particularly among males. Alcohol contributes to premature deaths involving accidents, injuries and violence particularly among males. Male mortality rates fell sharply during Gorbachev’s anti-alcohol campaign of 1984 to 1987. This effort reduced state alcohol production, raised prices for liquor, mandated alcoholic treatments where needed and cracked down on homemade liquor. The program was highly unpopular and abandoned, after which...
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