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Monday, January 4, 2010

President Dmitry Medvedev is Trying to Fight Back Against Alcoholism

The holidays are well known to be tough times for many people suffering from alcoholism. In Russia where alcoholism rates among men are through the roof causing a low life expectancy, the government is taking steps to curb the mass flow of alcohol. The minimum price on vodka was put into action in Russia on Friday. President Dmitry Medvedev is trying to fight back against alcoholism, the holidays in Russia are known for excessive drinking. The price of the cheapest vodka has nearly doubled and steps are being taken to triple the excise duty on beer as well as limit the places it can be sold. The Washington Post reported that, "in August, Medvedev ordered tough measures to curb alcohol abuse, saying he was shocked by official data showing the average Russian drank 18 liters (38 pints) of pure alcohol each year".

Medvedev is not the first Russian leader to tackle the alcohol question, alcohol has had an adverse effect on the country for generations. Former President Mikhail Gorbachev, the creator of Perestroika (restructuring) referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system, declared war on alcoholism in 1985. Gorbachev cut alcohol production as well as set up strict controls in order to cut public alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, very little success if any came of the alcohol reforms; people began to brew alcohol illegally, low quality moonshine type alcohol.

"The average monthly salary of 18,702 roubles ($651) would have bought 368 bottles of the cheapest vodka available before the New Year in an online supermarket, but 210 bottles now," according to the Washington Post. Hopefully, Medvedev has better success than Gorbachev, but, it is highly unlikely that better results will be seen. Alcoholics will find a way around the new restrictions and price increases. An increase in price will never deter an addict from getting what they need, for an alcoholic not drinking isn't an option. Drug and alcohol treatment is a much better deterrent against alcoholism than price increases and restrictions will ever be.

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