The numbers of those diagnosed with “alcohol addiction” in Russia have increased for the first time in 10 years, which could be attributed to the pandemic, socio-economic upheavals and “intensifying geopolitical confrontations,” according to medical professionals in Russia.
The data was published by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) in their Healthcare in Russia 2023 report.
According to the study, those diagnosed with alcohol addiction and alcohol psychosis (an acute condition accompanied by hallucinations, mood swings, sleeping disorders and other symptoms) halved between 2010 and 2021, falling from 153,900 to 53,300.
However, in 2022 the number has increased to 54,200, of which 12,900 suffer from alcoholic psychosis.
Ruslan Isaev, head of the narcological and psychiatric clinic in Russia, said in an interview with Russian news outlet Kommersant, that “socio-economic upheavals, increased geopolitical confrontations and sanctions pressure” have led to the increase of alcoholics in Russia.
He added that there was a noticeable increase in alcoholic psychosis cases and requests for drug treatment when the COVID pandemic started.
Tatyana Klimenko, director of Russia’s National Research Center for Narcology, also blamed the pandemic for the increase of alcoholics, calling the increase “slight negative dynamics” in reference to the downward trend earlier as “inflation is outpacing the increase in excise taxes on alcohol.”
She added that deaths from alcohol poisoning had decreased by 53 percent over the last 15 years.
Another medical professional in Russia believed the number of alcoholics to be much higher.
Vladimir Mendelevich, head of the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology at Kazan State Medical University, said the report only accounted for those who sought treatment, and there are likely more alcoholics than reported.
“We only have statistics on drug treatment clinics, and this is a question of whether a person asked for help or not. In recent years, the number of people who apply anonymously to non-state institutions and are not included in the statistics has increased,” he said.
He added that alcoholism is a “social diagnosis” that official reports fail to take into consideration.
“While addiction can be confirmed by medical research, harmful alcohol consumption with harmful consequences is a ‘social diagnosis.’ The man was caught drunk driving, sent for examination, alcohol was detected and registered – but there was no addiction,” he said.
A British intelligence update published on April 2, 2023 reported “‘extremely high’ numbers of incidents, crimes, and deaths linked to alcohol consumption amongst the deployed Russian forces,” adding that heavy drinking was “pervasive” in Russian society.
An earlier Kyiv Post report covered a case where drunk Russian commanding officers beat up their subordinates for being drunk.
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