Drug epidemic: there are about 5 million drug users in Russia. 4-year-old drug addicts are known

Drug abuse has become epidemic in Russia, a news conference was told in Moscow on Wednesday. Between 3 million and 5 million Russians are drug users, according to the Health Ministry. One third of the country's urban population have tried illegal drugs at least once. Users as young as 4-6 years of age have been known, and there have been increasing instances of children aged 11-13 trying drugs. People aged 18-30 make up 60% of Russia's users, and pre-college age students account for 20%. A survey by Moscow State University last year suggests that the majority of younger drug users are "highly intellectual children," students at elite schools and at prestigious higher educational institutions. As higher school students go, Moscow State University and the International Relations Institute, a diplomat-training establishment, have the highest proportions of users. The regions of Kaliningrad, Tver, Krasnodar and Stavropol, the Far East and the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg are the leaders when it comes to illegal drug trafficking, Interfax reports. The former Soviet Union officially had an insignificant number of people cocaine users or heroin addicts. Between 1996 and 1999, the proportion of heroin addicts among the patients of Russia's central drug treatment hospital skyrocketed from 30% to 80%.

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