Russia Starts to Admit Heroin Problem

Some blame West's failures in Afghanistan; others see bad policy
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2009 10:18 AM CDT
Russia uses more heroin than any other country, according to the nation's anti-drug group.   (©Mr. Theklan)
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(Newser) – With an estimated 2 million drug addicts in Russia—about one in 50 adults—the nation is finally admitting it has a problem. One ally of PM Vladimir Putin faults the West’s anti-terror efforts in nearby Afghanistan for allowing poppy cultivation to bloom; others say Russia’s sweep-it-under-the-rug policies make things worse, the Independent reports.

“The Russian strategy is to stifle serious debate about the problem and demonize drug users,” says one activist, explaining why addicts don’t get treatment. And with needle-exchange programs frowned upon, heroin use looks to be behind the spread of other deadly epidemics like HIV/AIDS.