Alcoholism: A Major Problem in Russia
Alcoholism is one of the leading social causes of mortality in the world today. It has been and will always be ranked among the favorite indulgence of people globally. For ages, governments, health organizations and other social groups continue to find ways to limit if not to end the abuse of alcoholic drinking.
Alcoholism has claimed millions of lives among different nationalities. Due to its wide spread acceptance as a social norm, people treat alcoholism as a part of daily routine. Although different measures are currently being implemented, many still deny the emergence of alcoholic beverages as detrimental to human health.
The incidence of alcohol abuse is alarming. Global statistics show an increase of alcoholics among teenagers and young adults. With this kind of trend, social experts presume a mortality rate higher among the younger generation than the older population. While concern is everywhere, it is sad to note that responsibility has a hard time to flourish inside the very foundation of an individual’s life. Parents and teachers can do more to drive away the deadly influence of alcohol from their children and families.
With the way alcohol-related incidents are emerging nowadays, keeping this social problem in check takes a larger part of the globe to cooperate. Being rampant, alcoholism is a worldwide problem that is being faced by most countries throughout the corners of the earth. Governments are getting involved like never before in controlling the social inhibition which is gaining entry into people’s lives uninvited. With alcoholism besieging every corner of the society, the international community is taking a second look. Patronizing alcoholic drinks have deadly repercussions.
The high death rate among nationalities of all ages is glaring evidence. Alcohol-related offenses and incidents will continue to haunt globally unless precautionary measures are set in place at once. THE RUSSIAN CRISIS Among the countries suffering the ill-effects of alcoholism is Russia. “Studies indicate that in Russia at least 30 percent of men and 15 percent of women are addicted to alcohol” (“Alcoholism in Russia”, 2002). Originally a leading nation in the former Soviet Union, Russia has snagged the prime position in alcohol consumption.
The world-known vodka spearheads the popularity of Russians on the global stage. But vodka is only a tiny bit of statistic about the real waves which is alarming Russia today. The communist state is in deep hole. Unless its government starts thinking about countermeasures to address the internal complication, alcoholism will be in Russia to stay for a very long, long time. “The cases have dominated news reports and Cabinet meetings, fueling debate about a malaise that has helped lower Russia’s average life expectancy rate to 66, 14 years shorter than the European Union average” (Nicholson, 2006).
Analysts and observers have long been concerned about the Russian’s delight for alcoholic beverages but it is only as of late did it able to catch media frenzy. The occurrence of deaths among young Russians has increased. For many, celebrations in the former Tsarist nation have gone out of proportion. The government is thinking about alternatives that will limit its citizens’ fondness for alcoholic beverages. However, instead of restricting Russians from feasting on alcoholic drinks, the situation turns even more complicated than has been initially perceived.
It is unfortunate that everybody is watching an entire nation drink itself to death. Nations and societies around the world are concerned about criminal cases caused by alcoholism on such a small account. But it is interesting to note that Russia continue to survive despite being hounded by alcoholism on a massive scale of related incidents. Everyday, it is customary for a young citizen in this country to walk the streets with a bottle in hand. Drunks are a common sight in this once-Stalinist community. Men and women, it doesn’t really matter which citizen gets a taste of that famous vodka and beer.
“One of the most striking changes in Russian cities in recent years is certainly the habit teenagers of both sexes have developed of roaming the streets with a bottle of beer as a fashion accessory” (Warren, 2001). Age is never a question among Russian drinkers. Individuals as young as thirteen years of age experience a new-found freedom with the death-causing bottle. ALCOHOLIC ACCOUNTS Many people believe that the famous American recovery program Alcoholics Anonymous should have arrived in Russia earlier to break the alcohol addiction.
The government only allowed AA to be implemented in the mid-80s. Although it has been instrumental in controlling alcoholism in various Russian areas, the problem is still very much prevalent. But experts say that the real cause of country’s alcoholic inhibition is its history. Liquor especially the famous vodka is very much a Russian tradition. Since the Crusades, alcoholic drinks present a celebratory lifestyle in Russia. Numerous leaders since Lenin call for a total elimination of liquor. But countless times, alcoholic drinks continue to thrive until today.
Even during the modern times in the 90s prior to the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the famous Mikhail Gorbachev want to ban the presence of alcohol from the mainstream of the society to no avail. It is an interesting fact that after the Soviet Union crumbles, Boris Yeltsin, who replaces Gorbachev, is a vodka fan himself. Russia continues to ride the wave with this new leader on the post. The country’s rise out from the ashes of communism allows a thorough look of its economic and social situation. In the past, the nation relies upon itself to resolve its internal woes.
Without outside influence, Russia continues to deny the growing menace brought by alcoholism. But as it gradually opens up to the world, evident incidents are being revealed. Due to its transition towards a capitalist state, Russia is now losing control on its newly-introduced freedom. There are various concerns that the motherland is now busy about. But with different priorities on the table, it is very likely that the nation can be able to address all concerns in one setting. By American standards, Russian alcohol consumption almost doubles what their former Cold War counterparts actually drink.
“The average Russian male drinks about four gallons of pure alcohol per year, which amounts to about a pint of vodka every other day. To put it in perspective, this is nearly twice what Americans consume” (“Alcoholism in Russia”, 2002). In the early 21st century, Russia has been known to consume more alcohol than any other country in the world. It is hardly an honor since it reflects the numerous young Russians dying annually of alcohol-related diseases. Many workers in the nation are quick to defend themselves about their indulgence on alcohol. Social drinking is a particular explanation of choice for many.
But this kind of reasoning costs millions of dollars in business losses due to counter productivity. Numerous workers don’t show up for work for a couple of days or even for a week. Concerns are never limited within the Russian nation. International groups show interest in lending support to contain alcoholism. However, it is never meant to be easy. Most of the country’s citizens have a hand on the bottle. It is hard for these people to part with the poison which they have been accustomed to have all their lives. As for the young Russians, everything is a learning experience.
Every once in a while, drinks are up for grabs either for killing the time or for bonding with friends. There are numerous angles to tackle the alcoholism in Russia. The solutions may come handy but individuals are very much into the drinking habit. Analysts consider treating the disease among the older generation as out of bounds due to the degree of addiction. What most observers are concerned about is the increasing number of alcoholics among the young people. Everybody wants to end the cycle. But the Russians are still very much in the flow of things.
And that makes the alcohol hard to prohibit. Most of the citizens want a drink. A drop of vodka can end up with the entire bottle. Even a leader like Yeltsin can be a motivating factor among the people to enjoy the perks of alcoholism. GOVERNMENT ACTION The election of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency can be the answer to the alcoholic woes plaguing the motherland. So far in his administration, the government has imposed a heavy tax on alcoholic beverages. Control over factories which produces alcoholic beverages is currently being sought by the president.
The production of vodka and related alcoholic drinks has been limited. But the Russians continue to find sources of these drinks elsewhere. However, a new concern soon emerges. Being known throughout the world as a great lover of vodka, no one, not even the national government can prevent a Russian drinker to part with his favorite drink. Numerous citizens acquire impure or otherwise counterfeit alcoholic drinks from all the corners of the nation. With vodka unavailable or limited on the store shelves, individuals are looking for other means to supplement their craving for alcohol in their system.
The only setback is that these alternative alcoholic beverages are considered second grade to the originally produced vodka and beer. The contents of these drinks can be detrimental to the health. “The profusion of poor-quality and counterfeit products on our alcohol market is a huge problem,” Putin said (Bigg, 2006). But Russian addiction to alcohol continues to prevail nonetheless. A derivative of the old vodka is being sold in the streets and this causes problems not merely to the citizens but to the government as well.
President Putin’s government imposes new tax regulations aimed at limiting the production of alcoholic beverages throughout the country. “The authorities hoped that the alcohol reform, by slapping a tax on industrial spirits, would curb bootleg vodka production and bring down the number of alcohol-poisoning deaths” (Bigg, 2006). This restrictive approach has so far working at least. It controls the factories distilling alcoholic drinks. Many suppliers and producers have been restricted in their capability to bring vodka on a massive scale. The factories know that Russians loved drinking.
There is a lot of money to be made in the alcoholic beverage market. But with high taxes, the producers are paying more than what they should be in the past. Income has been hampered altogether and so they choose to limit their production instead. Prior to the implementation of new taxation ordinances, the government taps different economic and social organization to have a hand in the alcoholism problem in Russia. Anywhere in the former communist bloc, individuals clutch bottles under their hands. Persons below the legal age are having the time of their lives enjoying the vodka, the beer and the other imported hard liquor.
Parents, teachers, relatives and guardians balk at the responsibility of checking the drinking habits of many people. There is hesitation in ending or controlling the consumption of alcohol primarily because drinking is hard to subdue. Enjoying a drink is a common occurrence even from the time of the Tsars and the Bolshevists. Attempts have been made to eradicate it but tradition has it that Russia finds joy in vodka. The availability of alcoholic beverages throughout the Russian nation is a prime cause of excessive drinking. Any way an individual looks, there is a reason to celebrate.
Prices prior to the government’s restrictive law are affordable. It allows the citizens to acquire no matter how many bottles they can consume. Alcohol is spread out in Russia as a prelude to an impending fiesta celebration of some kind. The drinking habit is perhaps a culture that may never go out of style. Russians like to drink. Whether it is dangerous to their health, it doesn’t entirely matter. Various organizations and agencies participate in the government’s drive to check Russia’s dreaded disease. The total elimination of alcoholic brands never crosses the priority list of inspectors and enforcers.
What is initially discussed is a method of controlling alcohol consumption among Russians. The whole country knows that it is drinking itself to death. Statistics show an increase of mortality rates caused by alcoholism. Even the world is watching. Everybody is concerned about the health risks in Russia. But the love for the bottle is just too much. Non-profit and non-government organizations launch an investigative program to trace Russia’s addiction to alcohol. Instead of focusing on the prohibitive measures, another option to tackle the problem is being pursued.
The root motivation behind the drinking habits of many Russians is being sought to be acted upon. Historical accounts about the drinking habits of the former Bolshevists’ country are opened. Living conditions are observed. For things to be helpful to the Russians, cooperation means everything. RECENT HISTORY Russia is in the forefront of the now-defunct Soviet Union. Although the central government controls most of the country’s political and social machineries, the Union States experience progress all throughout. The Soviet empire is a proud federation.
Not so long ago, its stature poses to be a threat to international security. With the communist party at the helm, laws and regulations are strictly imposed. Citizens are at the mercy of the State. Statistical figures about alcoholism rates are kept under wraps. The extent of alcohol addiction under communist rule is deceiving. Nobody knows how grave the danger is at that time. The government is hiding details since the Cold War era is still in effect. All along, the focus is on winning that war. Internal conflicts are ignored or ceased to be addressed.
The greatest battle that Russia has undergone is its transition from a communist nation to a capitalist state. The country has been under the red flag for so long that life all over the empire will be disastrous if reforms are pushed. Citizens believe that there is no other way to live in the country but under equal terms, under communist control, that is. When the world prevails against the communists, walls start crumbling down. Berlin signals an end to the era of the mighty Soviet Republics. People everywhere in Eastern Europe call for democratic shift in government platforms.
The demise of communism is only a matter of time. By the time changes are in place, another problem surfaces. Russia and its former communist bloc have trouble starting a capitalist nation. The break from the old tradition is harder than initially perceived. Although assistance from the United States and other countries come in swiftly, Russia has problems settling a restless population. Internal turmoil besieges the nation as calls for immediate reforms, freedom and a new way of life mounted. Under the communist machinery, Russians are so accustomed to being taken cared of on just everything that they need.
Food, shelter and clothing are being supplied by the central government. The only thing missing at that time is freedom. Restrictions are a part of everyday life. When capitalism emerges, Russia felt somewhat confused with all the freedom available. Without total control, chaos soon erupts. Russia’s transition towards democracy takes time to fully sink in. Political analysts say that adjustment to a new system can be discouraging but definitely a necessity if the country intends to survive. The government drops a number of industries and allows these businesses to be privatized.
With a free hand on situations and many other things, many Russians have trouble providing themselves and their families with their basic needs. Unlike before, people must find a job or something to build upon in order to earn money to survive. But the situation makes it hard for all individuals to get a work primarily because most industries are still starting out. Many companies and factories are managing their costs to stay competitive while trying to attain stability. The political and social upheaval in the post-Cold War Russia turns out to be a miserable experience for many citizens.
Jobs are scarce. The government is trying hard to make both ends meet. The entire country is apparently on its own. In response to the anguish and harsh living conditions across Russia, alcohol is the immediate problem reliever. People get numbed after a stretch of drinking and this allows many citizens to simply sleep through with their problems at least for the night. ALCOHOL AS THE ANSWER Vodka is not only a celebratory instrument to be toasted and treasured in Russian life. Alcoholic drinks are being used by numerous individuals as an escape from hardship.
With nothing much to offer, the government has no solutions to offer on its people’s plight. Because of this, many Russians seek the comfort of the bottle. Alcohol is a refuge among poor Russians. Consumption is increased to drown the sorrows of the day. Perhaps even the government officials get to drink some vodka to calm their nerves after a nerve-wracking activity at the Politburo. Numerous alcoholic beverages gain immediate acceptance in the mainstream of the society. All over Russia is dealing with birth pains of a capitalist state. Adapting to democratic principles is never easy.
The financial market is down. The nation is in ruins. What is once a mighty and proud empire sits atop a sandlot thinking warily about the future. With international assistance and support, Russia overcomes a multitude of depressing turmoil. As it manages to adapt to capitalism, growth and development soon result to progress all throughout the levels of the society. With the nation back on its feet, the country is ready to face new challenges. The demands of its citizens are slowly being addressed one way or the other. By the time Russia pedals with the rest of the world, alcoholism is simply ignored.
For many Russians, the risk of drinking a little too many is a common cause for celebration. Deaths caused by alcohol are a common occurrence. It is a different story in Russia. Excessive drinking is a leading cause in mortality among its citizens. As the situation worsens, the government ignores the pleas of the people. As the worldwide and national attention heightens, there is no other way to deal with the incidents but to address the situation. Under President Putin, regulatory measures are implemented. Factories limit their production on alcoholic beverages. Russians are finding it extremely hard to grab an alcoholic drink.
No matter how strict government laws are, citizens still manage to squeeze in a bottle or two for a night’s consumption. The drinking habits among Russians just keep getting better. Old folks consume alcohol more than their usual limits. It brings up a negative example for the younger generation to follow. The young people pick up their habits as well from the older population. It is no wonder that teenagers as young as thirteen or fourteen are gaining addiction to alcohol. “In a country renowned for hard drinking, most people aren’t surprised to hear that 42,000 people die from counterfeit alcohol in Russia each year” (Nicholson, 2006).
Russians are resourceful enough to find alternative sources. If the government is firm in its stance to paralyze the alcohol industry, the citizens are quick to scout the area for possible sources of vodka, beer and other alcoholic drinks. The only danger is the contents of these alternative beverages. “Perfumes, aftershave, cleaning liquids and other fluids have been passed off by counterfeiters as vodka for decades, and have long been on the drinks list of Russia’s more desperate alcoholics” (Nicholson, 2006).
Being counterfeit, the risk of vodka being impure is a hundred folds higher that the original. This can be an added cause of deaths among Russian drinkers. It is not alcohol consumption alone that is in question. “Compounding the problem is the cheap price tag carried by a bottle of fake liquor” (Bigg, 2006). CONCLUSION Whether the mortality rate has been increased by excessive alcohol consumption or counterfeit patronization, many Russian groups are convinced that finding the solution to the alcoholic situation in Russia is merely another political ploy.
Numerous organizations are very much aware of the government’s takeover of important industries such as oil and gas in the nation. Party groups believe that the administration is seeking to include the alcohol industry under its control. Heating up the already complicated alcohol consumption among citizens is one reason enough to revitalize the government’s claim. However, with or without political hitches, alcoholism in Russia is a serious problem. People must treat the situation not merely as part of a tradition or just a common celebration. Persons are dying.
Alcohol in excess is deadly. If Russian lives are to be saved, the government must seek the cooperation of its people in order to address this national concern. REFERENCES Bigg, C.. Russia: Alcohol Reform Blamed for Outbreak of Poisonings. RadioFreeEurope. (2006, Oct. 30). Retrieved November 15, 2007 from http://www. rferl. org/featuresarticle/2006/10/67164cf3-a58d-4a76-aae0-e4f64e992f9b. html Eke, S.. Fake Russian Alcohol ‘Kills Many. ’ BBC News. (2006, June 23). Retrieved November 15, 2007 from http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/europe/5111762. stm
Nicholson, A.. Alcohol Deaths Spark Debate in Russia. Boston. Com. (2006, Nov. 4). Retrieved November 15, 2007 from http://www. boston. com/news/world/europe/articles/2006/11/04/alcohol_deaths_spark_debate_in_russia/ Warren, M.. Lone Crusader Fights Russia’s Alcohol Problem. Telegraph. Co. UK. (2001, June 19). Retrieved November 15, 2007 from http://www. telegraph. co. uk/news/main. jhtml? xml=/news/2001/02/03/wrus03. xml Alcoholism in Russia. Everything2. (2002, October 22). Retrieved November 15, 2007 from http://everything2. com/index. pl? node_id=1380040