There are 8 million drug users in Russia, half of whom are officially classified as addicts. These people spend at least 1.5 trillion rubles ($37 billion) on drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and spice every year, Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov told Ekho Moskvy radio last week. This is equivalent to the annual tax revenues of Moscow, a city of 12 million. Eighty percent of all deaths of Russians aged 18 to 34 are caused by drugs, Ivanov said.
At present, the Russian government is desperately trying to crush the drug market with force. At the same time, there is not a single government program to work with demand. Policymakers need to see drug use in a holistic way, to understand that social ills directly correspond to its proliferation. Russians must be able to resolve difficulties without resorting to repressing them with drugs. Drugs must become irrelevant in Russia.
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