“Narcotism is only a symptom, while the real illness is much serious and deeper…”

PRAVDA.Ru guest Yakov Gilinsky, doctor of justice, professor, head of Deviantology Centre at St. Petersburg's Institute of Sociology. PRAVDA.Ru one more time discusses the issue of narcotism in Russia.

Q. When approximately did the issue of narcotism get dangerous scale for Russia? There is an impression, that the state has simply missed this moment. Why?

A. I do not see the “dangerous scale.” Of course, drugs are being spread. Unfortunately, this is a norm for such a society, which is in the state of total crisis (economical, social, political, moral etc.). Narcotism is only a symptom, while the real illness is much serious and deeper. In principle, the state and the society hardly could change anything, though they could at least patch up holes, in particular through a clever cevilized anti-drug activity (propaganda, education, normal conditions for self-realization of teenagers and youth, good medical assistance to drug-addict persons, social and psychological assistance).

Q. You do not see the “dangerous scale?” But I am quoting Utro.Ru: “Number of the drug-addict in Russia exceeded 1.5 million people within recent 10 years. This was stated by Vice-Premier Valentina Matvienko, while opening a sitting devoted to the situation in social sphere. At the same time, there are only 200,000 officially registered drag-addicts in Russia. In this way, the Vice-Premier said, only every fifth drag-addict is under the state’s medical control. In 44 regions of Russia, the number of drug-addicts is more than 100 people on every 100,000 citizens. The problem, according to Matvienko, is becoming “political.”

A. First, the figure of 1.5 million is as reliable, as that one of 200,000. Who and when did count it, and how it could be counted at all? Methodically exact examinations in all Russian regions are necessary, though not politized. Second, one-time drug consumers are usually confused with the drag-addict, who are really ill people. Therefore, this is the constant play of figures. Third, how many alcoholics do we have? Russia takes the first place in the world as for alcohol consumption per head. How many self-murderers do we have (the second place in the world). And how many murders do we have (the third place in the world, after Colombia and South Africa)? Why is nobody concerned with it? While these figures are really frightful: the population ruins itself by drinking, annihilate itself and the neighbour… That are really political issues, because they reflect a very difficult situation in the country. Of course, we must counteract the spread of drug. Though with what means? What is the price of these means? Populist slogans could not be the answer.

Q. Usually, it is said about social consequences of narcotism. And what are its social reasons? Poverty hardly could be the reason, because cocaine, for example, is an amusement for rich people…

A. Social reasons are different (there is no reason only of narcotism): traditionally authoritarian upbringing both at school and at home, with cries and punishment; replacement of some unreal aims (the bright future) with some more unreal ones for most of people (getting rich); parents occupying themselves with a rush for wealth, total child neglect with living parents; and the most important thing is the gap between declared values (money, expensive cars and health resorts) and the real possibilities to obtain all this (for most of the population, especially for youth). The difference between incomes of the richest and of the purest people makes now 20-25 times. While according to world standards, 10-time difference is already critical, fraught with social conflicts. There are many other things which should be taken into account, including the Chechen war. I stress one more time: impossibility for most of the population to legally reach a success, to be realized in some creative or socially approved activity that is the main reason of criminalization, narcotization, alcoholization of teenagers and youth. Moreover, since the 1970s, in the whole world the so-called inclusion/exclusion process is being analized, while to these “exclusive” levels of the society homeless, jobless, beggarly people, immigrants belong, while sometimes even the whole countries could be “exclusive,” for example Russia, which are not included in the “gold billion” countries. The “exclusion” countries and social levels are the base for all deviations, including narcotization. It would be enough to say that if in 1987, in Russia people without constant incomes made 12 percent of the whole criminal mass, while by 2000, this number made 55 percent.

Q. Drug business is very profitable. It is being probably lobbied in supreme spheres either? Is it possible to overcome this lobby?

A. It is not possible for society to overcome narcolobby, as well as other lobbies, while all power structures are corrupted.

Q. Is there something from foreign experience in this sphere, which is being used by us in the fight against narcotism? Is our situation is similar to that one in Europe?

A. The question demands a special consideration. There is certain experience in Holland, in Poland in other countries. But first thing we should use from their experience is tolerance to all “miserable” people, to all who thinks or acts in a different way. In the West, they do not use for example the word “narcoman,” they say somebody has troubles with drug, or with alcohol, with law. We need a good medical service, including teaching of how to correctly use a syringe without injuring vein, using of Methadone therapy (which is legal even in the countries with hard anti-drag policy – in Germany, Sweden and others). Now, Methadone is being replaced by other new means, I even do not know by which ones. Yes, Methadone is a drug, though the question is about a smaller harm, and about the legalized one. In general, all civilized (and half-civilized, like the US) countries turned from War on Drugs policy to Harm Reduction. A well prepared anti-drug propaganda is necessary, education (in Poland – from kindergarten), psychological assistance etc. and no fight on narcotism. In our centre, the word “fight” is forbidden, for whatever notions it could be used, including criminality. Enough that, once we fought against “people’s enemies,” against “persons of Caucasian nationality” and so on.

Q. Some people propose to legalize drug, others – to introduce the death penalty for drug traffic. So, what is your opinion?

A. To legalize all drugs means to annihilate narco-Mafia, to stop all crimes committed by drug-addicts for a “dose,” to change the police policy to the medical and social one. Though in our conditions it is impossible: neither patriots permit it, nor narco-Mafia and its lobby, nor the police – with what will they occupy themselves then?

Q. Are the methods of anti-narcotism fight used in Russia effective?

A. No, they are not. The fight methods could not be effective in principle. The police cannot solve a social problem with deep biological (remember at least cats and valerian drops), historical, cultural, economical roots. The police, while being bribed by drug barons, catch only small fishes, drug-addicts and small drug sellers, while the state’s narcological service… your could see it in the narcological centre.

Q. What is your forecast for the further development of the situation?

A. It is pessimistic, because: see my answers to the previous questions. We create troubles on ourselves and wedrive ourselves into a corner. It is a Russian hobby.

Yakov Glinsky was interview by Andrei Lubensky PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Vera Solovieva

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/25/38762.html

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