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Dr. Sergey Zagraevsky


About alcohol and alcoholism in Russia



The following text was translated from the Russian original by the computer program

and has not yet been edited.

So it can be used only for general introduction.




The bright memory

Marianne Kulikova (1990-2009),

lost through the fault of drunk driver


First of all, let us state the truism: the goal of any state is to combat the many vices of society. Hardly can argue with that.

One can hardly argue and yet another truism: alcoholism is a disease of society.

Seemingly, the laws of logic conclusion there should be clear: the state's task is to combat alcoholism as one of the ills of society. As, for example, as drug addiction.

This is in theory. But in practice it is not so. Is it possible to imagine that the shelves of grocery stores were filled with... drugs? Various types, produced the most famous and reputable firms in the most vivid and attractive packaging, which had been worked best designers?

Of course, this is impossible. A liquor shelves of all supermarkets, grocery stores, shops, shops and stalls literally crammed. Moreover, different, produced the most famous and reputable firms in the most vivid and attractive packaging -- And that the state is struggling with alcoholism - disease society?

It may be objected: alcoholism is a disease that must be treated. And little by little - why not to drink? So to say, "for the mood, not moving "face"?

Yes, but the drugs also can eat a little - "for the mood, and the treatment to be had drug addiction, and is, so to speak, "beyond... So why not start selling in shops and drugs? In the bright and attractive packaging?

But do not start the same. And the fact that determine the proverbial edge, where it ends "little"impossible. Quite the dangers of drug addiction is a terrible disease that destroys the human psyche, leading to the degradation of his person, is to be excluded from legal trade anything that has the potential to lead.

Many will remember Amsterdam, where legally sold so-called "light" drugs - hash", hallucinogenic mushrooms and all such stuff. Surely the Dutch are not afraid of degeneration of the nation?

To this answer: drug use among the Dutch themselves are extremely rare. They're just such a "dirty" way to attract tourists and replenish the state budget. As far as revenue from the "tourism" to justify staggering through the streets of Amsterdam, the crowd was not quite adequate foreigners with staring eyes - don't know the Dutch know better. Maybe they used to.

In fairness, we note that votes for a total ban on drugs in the Netherlands are distributed continuously, and there is no doubt that sooner or later they are still banned. And now they are in any case not stand in attractive packaging on the shelves of food stores: they can be bought only in the so-called "coffee shops", and only asked the bartender for a "special" menu (usually unpresentable laminated sheet of paper). And these ' coffee shops ' more like dirty dens - at least, compared to conventional coffee.

But in the Netherlands - their problems, Russia - their own. And Russia's main problem is not drugs - anyway, its scale is not greater than in other countries. The main and (that is doubly sad) traditional problem of Russia is alcoholism.

Here and in the tradition of the use of alcoholic beverages, mainly vodka. And the tradition of the "Russian feast" - with many toasts and the same vodka. And tradition "to think on three" - when "intimate conversations" are conducted under the same vodka. And the tradition spontaneously to mix alcohol strength (usually beer and vodka, but possible options)... And so on, all the "native Russian" traditions connected with alcohol, and so on.

In the end, in Russia there was a very specific situation: a society in varying degrees condemns drug abuse, gambling, prostitution, and even tobacco - but alcohol is not only not condemned, but often encouraged. How often do any of us have heard phrases like: "what, you don't drink to my health? Are you Russian, time does not drink? You don't want to drink with me, then do not respect me?.." This is already making use of alcoholic beverages in a social tool.

And the traditions of the Russian culture? Not subculture, namely culture - it's not the same subculture is Pushkin: "Drink with grief, where is the club? The heart will be happier"Blok "You're right, drunken monster! I know the truth is in wine"or Yesenin "I'm going head overhangs, side street in a familiar tavern. However, and in various subcultures of alcohol were always enough - they remember something like, "would be vodka, and case we will always find", or "a Bottle of wine, no headache, and sore from the one who does not drink anything.

And what a selection of alcoholic drinks in the Russian shops! Especially vodka - where else can you meet so many tens or even hundreds of names of the product, with such an endless variety of grades, bottles, labels, design! It would seem, in any case, it is only then alcohol, diluted with water in the ratio of 40/60, so no, if you read all that is written on the labels, it is just the elixir of life! And all this would be okay for foreign tourists as drugs in Amsterdam - no, for the Russians!

And the beer? What are the masterpieces advertising creative dedicated to him! Laws that restrict its advertising, subject to numerous restrictions and regulations, and as gracefully these prohibitions cost, and no one standard is not broken! It is impossible to show the people in beer advertising - and do not need to be done so that in the imagination of viewers, these images become more visible! Who will be there to look and ponder dreary faded inscription at the bottom: "Excessive consumption of beer hurts..." but what can damage such beauty? Drink, dear compatriots! So drink.

"Let him drink, if only in moderation!" - can be heard. But where is she, this measure? Not over there, where it "gradually" in respect of drugs, of which we have already said?

Alcoholism, like any disease, has several forms and stages, and not just sick person is socially inadequate and falls from society. First, an alcoholic and drug addict in the early stages, it becomes absent-minded and forgetful, his reaction slows down, it loses the ability to do several things to consider when making decisions all the factors, is gradually disappearing sense of responsibility for their actions, disabled such concepts as honor, conscience, commitment, initiative...

And "beer alcoholism? It acts on the brain and the psyche slower than "vodka", but quickly destroys the liver, kidneys and other internal organs as well as less strength beer is compensated by its number. It seems to be "light" drink - these people do not believe how much they drank, and eventually unconsciously "pumped through the body several liters per day.

Long before the earliest stages of alcoholism - what a drunk person driving a car, and even more of the plane? And at the plant, where the quality of the processed parts are also often dependent people's lives? And in the family, at home, - whether to tell what terrible events occur "drunk"? A stroll through the streets of Russian cities in the company of young and not so young people, and everyone in his hand in the pot of beer, " so then as they want... No, feeling mischievous they also want, but more often than their desire for a more prosaic: beer, as you know, a good diuretic.

And to those who say that drug addiction is a terrible disease than alcoholism, the answer: not only in Russian conditions. Drugs, in fact, more quickly lead to addiction and faster to dislodge people from society than alcohol - but how many drug addicts in Russia? Several hundred thousand. Of course, it very much, but how many alcoholics? To order more. Millions, if not tens of millions.

The drug is mostly residents of large cities and their percentage among the surrounding population is very small, and besides, they don't see or hear - basically, they quietly lying on mattresses in their dens. And how many in Russia localities where alcoholism in one form or another and stage - not a lot out there per cent, and most citizens! Yes, and in the cities of alcoholics much more than addicts, and they do not lie on brothels, and absolutely openly roam the streets and gather at the stalls, sit on benches, and drink, and drink. And then go home and drink again - already, so to speak, "in the family". The eyes of the children.

By the way, for the children, drug addicts are usually so quickly expire or are isolated from society, that no time during his illness to produce offspring. But alcoholism due to a longer course and even prevents play "victims drunken conception. How often these children are born, everyone knows.

So terrible for Russia - alcoholism or drug addiction? In my opinion, the answer is obvious.

Obvious conclusion from this response: to prevent trafficking of alcohol as prohibited drug trafficking. In other words, to enter the Russian Federation, full and unconditional "dry law". With the same penalties for its violation, which currently provides the Penal code for the acquisition, storage, transportation, manufacturing, processing, trafficking and organization of the use of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or their analogues.

Half-measures (increase of excise on alcoholic drinks, introduction of state monopoly on production and sale of alcohol, artificial creation deficit alcohol-containing products, with the exception of the turnover of all kinds of substitutes and fakes) is not only useless but even harmful. They only serve to directly or indirectly (in the hypothetical withdrawal from the market of cheap low-quality drinks) higher prices, with virtually no reduction in the volume of sales of alcohol.

Here is a simple example: you cannot enter into the legal market turnover military firearms, trying to reduce the volume of its sales (and, consequently, the risk posed by him by repeatedly overstatement of its price. All the same people buy what could pistols and machine guns, and the streets will not silence the shooting.

As with alcohol, this situation will get even worse, because the gun on the last money, few people will buy, and buy a lot of vodka. Consequently, if the increase in its prices, it would mean not only the continuation of welding of people, but also a General lowering of their lives. On this subject is rather like the middle of 1980-ies - memorable times of Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign: "Dad, on TV said that vodka will rise in price, then you will drink less? - No, son, it means that you will eat less".

So here it is, as they say, or-or. Or permit - in the conditions of free competition and market pricing, or deny fully and unconditionally.

Hypothetical withdrawal from the market of alcoholic substitutes and forgery problem also does not address. Surrogates and forgery does not increase the risk of alcoholism, and food poisoning. A poison can and sausage, and cakes.

Well, any restrictions on the advertising of those or other alcoholic beverages is not even half-measures, and, so to say, "chetvertoy". After all alcohol advertising per se does not need (especially in Russia), and these restrictions, only a few make it difficult to compete manufacturers. And slightly difficult - even if the total ban and outdoor and television advertising of any alcohol-containing products, it will start so-called "action BTL" - "cheap publicity". For example, passers-by on the streets begin to stick pretty boys and girls with offers to taste one or another drink. Or all public places will fill hawkers flyers. As a result, manufacturers of alcohol and still save on advertising budgets and will be able to reduce prices for their products. It means that people will start to drink more.

Since we remembered the anti-alcohol campaign in the mid-1980's, the recall and the reasons for its failure.

I think that it was primarily in the fact that it consisted of the proverbial half-measures. Instead of accepting "dry law" was only dramatically reduced the volume of production of alcohol (in particular, carved vines), increased public rates on alcohol (in particular, vodka cost depending on varieties 4-5 rubles, and 10-12) and put some restrictions on trade (in particular, wine and vodka shops started to not work in the morning and two hours a day, and sell alcohol became citizens not older than 18 and 21 years).

Not surprisingly, these half-measures only angered people, and with the collapse of Soviet power, the development of market relations and free importation of alcohol they have turned into nothing. Moreover, in the early 1990-ies more or less decent spirits became an indispensable component of the same high standard of living as second-hand prestigious foreign cars and bright red jackets.

But if in the Soviet time, in conditions of almost unlimited administrative resource "of the party and government", was adopted unconditional "dry law", - it is quite probable that would have created a precedent that Russian legislators decided not to cancel, so as not to incur charges in the welding of the people".

Of course, history does not tolerate the subjunctive, but the historical mistakes can and should be taken into account. And if the "dry law" was not accepted, it can and should take now, the administrative resources of the ruling party is hardly less than in Soviet times.

When discussing the possible introduction of "the dry law" usually occurs the following questions:

- can you give a crack in the state budget, losing revenues from alcohol?

- do not start mass popular protests in the form of demonstrations, meetings, referenda, impeachment, and even armed rebellion?

- as without "drinking" to celebrate weddings, funerals, baptisms, anniversaries, to receive visitors, "relax", "treatment" and "quench"?

- do not begin mass production of vodka and home-made wines, will not start if the citizens drink Cologne, Polish, meth and other poison?

Well, the answer in order.

There is a stereotypical view that revenues from excise taxes on alcohol - almost the main part of the state budget of the Russian Federation. But in fact, this view has nothing in common with reality. For example, the 2008 budget. Its total revenue is about 6.8 trillion. roubles, of which revenues from the oil and gas industry accounting for 36 % (about 2.4 trillion), revenues from value-added tax to 19 % (about 1.3 trillion), and revenues from the production, import and realization of all types of alcoholic beverages, including alcohol from food raw material... About 15 billion rubles. It 0,2 % of the revenue part of the budget. Needless to say that in case of introduction of "the dry law" few people notice the loss of such a negligible percentage of income?

It is easy to understand where all this took radically wrong stereotype about the fact that alcohol is a "life buoy" for the budget. For this purpose it is necessary to remember much more successful anti-alcohol campaign than the one that was conducted in the mid-1980s, the "dry law" in 1914. He was so effective even in the First world war, two revolutions, civil war and war communism", which lasted until 1923. Thus, in 1916, a famous physician, doctor of medical Sciences A.L. Mendelssohn wrote: "the Tale of sobriety - the anticipation of heaven on earth - was in Russia the truth.

But the beginning of the "new economic policy", merchants to pay taxes not in a hurry, in industry and agriculture have not yet been liquidated consequences of devastation, oil and gas, the country is still exported, and then the Soviet government (without V.I. Lenin, who have taken a strong stand) decided to replenish the state budget at the expense of excise taxes on alcohol.

And so it happened that the Soviet citizens began to take not only the real estate, jewelry and other property, but also health. And the right people would ruin their health for some reward, or even free, " no, they are also paid (and still paying) excise tax included in the price of alcoholic beverages. That such a "vicious circle" was the willingness to enter into the state budget "alcoholic income".

Note for the sake of justice, that during the great Patriotic war of alcohol has played a positive rather than a negative role. Remember daily "frontline hundred grams", and in the attack sober went rarely, and in extremely cold winter of 1941 and 1942 near Moscow and Stalingrad on the advanced positions just rolled out of the barrel of alcohol, and each drink as he could - or overstay in the trenches-degree frost was impossible. Fires something on the front will not ignite, tea will not boil...

But the war had ended long ago, and nowadays people are unlikely to be dizzy alcohol for some of these goals - the conquest of the world, Europe or at least a small neighboring States. On the contrary, in the modern Russian conditions necessary to fully develop the business, and business people need a cool head. And it demonstrates once again in favor of "the dry law".

Second question about possible riots, impeachment, referendums and other things like that. There is no doubt that in the modern Russian conditions, they will not, as there was in the mid 1980 agriculture In fragile nineties - Yes, would have been. And now? At the local level, at the closing of one individual wine-vodka shop - perhaps people could gather and Pabianice.

It is impossible not to take into account the psychological factor. In our time to speak out against the "dry law" few people dare, because in relation to human health is now very different priorities than, for example, in 1933, when repeal the "dry law" in the United States (in force since 1919). The epoch is completely characterized by a poster: sitting on the pot child that way three years, in his mouth cigarette, and below the inscription: "Mother, don't be angry with me, better give me a light". A joke? No, it is common in the 1930-ies advertising of cigarettes "Marlboro". Not Smoking at the time was the use of children and alcohol advertising.

Of course, many people the introduction of "the dry law" will be displeased, and Fig in the pocket" will be kept. May be reduced and the level of trust to the government, and the rating of the country's leadership, and the electorate of the ruling party.

Certainly, the "dry law" should be introduced gradually and in stages (for example, first to prohibit alcoholic beverages stronger than 30 degrees, then ten, then five, then the rest), and in parallel will need a massive public education campaign, involving all sorts of media. This will alleviate all theoretically possible negative consequences.

The third question, as we remember, was the fact that people will have nothing to drink for the holidays. To this answer: God forbid that people didn't have more serious problems than the choice of drinks for the holiday table. If spirits to cancel step by step, you will have time to adapt, and develop new habits to replace the existing, such as: "What a wedding without a drunken brawl!". Or, sorry, "face into the salad". The sooner this national disgrace will stop, the better.

It's the same with the need to "relax". Modern life offers alcohol as a way to "relax"and especially "treatment" or "thirst", many far more effective and useful alternatives.

It is necessary to consider that in the conditions of the 8-hour working day and more or less organized way of life of each person on average 3-4 hours of leisure time per day. And he will spend them - to "relax" with the help of vodka or beer? Or is it something less harmful to health and the man himself, and his offspring? This is one of the main tasks of the government is the improvement of leisure of citizens, increase their cultural and educational level.

And finally, the fourth question: and will not start if the people in the mass order to produce moonshine brew house wine, drink Cologne and prepare cocktails in the style of Venedikt Erofeev - "meth, varnish purified, nail Polish, a cure sweating feet"?

Start - Yes (some, in fact, never stopped). But in the mass order - no. Once again a parallel with drug addiction: if, as they say, "very necessary", then any pharmacy you can buy all the ingredients for homemade quite effective drugs. Probably, they will be harmful to health than the "factory" - but "factory", too, to put it mildly, not very useful, so here, "lost his head, his hair did not cry." Same thing with alcohol: the one who is "very necessary", drink, and spirits "Christian Dior".

It is those who are "very necessary". For those who absolutely "no need", here in General it is not - they will not even think on these topics. But there are always some "average", "undecided" a lot of people prone to alcoholism only potentially. In other words, they will drink, if they "put" (or offer a huge selection of alcoholic beverages in stores), but will not overcome more or less serious difficulties in obtaining alcohol, and especially to violate the law for the sake of "drinking".

And these people - law-abiding citizens, "the inhabitants", upon which social peace - most. If this were not so, the world would be impossible to live.

Remains a minority. First, those who are already sick with alcoholism and ready to drink every denaturate. Secondly, those who for profit and ready to produce moonshine, and sell it, and illegal import of alcohol from abroad. The first has to do with doctors, the second - the law enforcement agencies. This is nothing new - absolutely we see a similar situation with drugs. Fight them by society and the state have already learned so much, what about addiction as a disease of tens of millions of people it is not.

Therefore, there is no doubt that, just like the society and the state will learn to fight illegal turnover of alcohol. It is only a matter not to indulge lowest instincts of people, to show political will for improvement of the nation and type "dry law" as a necessary tool for the further advancement of the Russian Federation towards the most developed and civilized countries. The notorious stereotypes "all Russians drink vodka" should be the same historical absurdity as that "in Russia the streets of the towns go bears.

Moscow, 2009.

 © Sergey Zagraevsky


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