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World's Worst Places for Addicts: Russia

Getting caught with drugs or having to go through drug treatment anywhere other than Florida truly scares me. Other countries don’t handle drug addiction lightly. In Russia, the treatment center does not handcuff addicts to their beds anymore. But detained together on bunks with no way out, they have no choice but to tolerate the sufferings of withdrawal, the first step in a harsh, forced approach to drug treatment that has gained extensive support in Russia.

It has been said that they are skirting the law. They lock people up but only by request of their families. Men lay shoulder to shoulder in a very small room filled with tall metal beds, each one of them in a personal world of despair. This is known as the quarantine room, which is where the men withdrawal and go through their detox. The treatment center is run by a secretive group called City without Drugs. The staff has said it usually takes about a year to fully rehabilitate them.

Once they are done withdrawing in the room, which they could be in as long as a month and only receive bread and water, they usually work a job, lift weights and cook. They continue on with this for a year. To put someone in shackles, it calms them emotionally and mentally, said Mr. Shipachev, a staff member at the center, as he summoned through photographs of men handcuffed to their beds or to each other. It’s actually the old-timers who calm the new guys, when a guy shouts out that he’s going to die, they all just laugh at him. They have all been there before and know it gets better. It would be way worse if he were alone, for now the best solution is to just go to sleep, stated Mr. Shipachev.

The principal of this type of treatment is to just stop taking drugs and rough it out. They mostly just want to keep them clean a certain period of time so that the system cleans itself out and if they behave then they send them home. Of course, most experts condemn this approach to the addiction recovery process. For me, just getting the drugs out of my system was never enough to keep me sober. Per Diederik Lohman who is a senior researcher at the monitoring group Human Rights Watch, what they present as drug treatment has absolutely no basis in evidence. Lohman took part in a recent study of narcotics use and treatment in Russia.

What Russia chooses to do for drug treatment has very little in common with international best practice standards based on research and is not likely to have any valuable effect on patients. Most people tend to agree with it due to the drug addiction epidemic occurring in Russia and just wanting drug addicts off of the streets. When it comes to drug addicts and the consequences with the law, Russia definitely has a lot more in common with the United States than any other country I’ve researched, so far. They give a great deal of jail time for drug offenses but still I didn’t see anything in regards to the death penalty; unlike a lot of the other countries. If you really want to get sober, you can do it ANYWHERE. It sure does help when you want to avoid the death penalty in China or being locked in a quarantine-like room in Russia. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.




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