Russia's Health Epidemic of Epic Proportions.

By Kevin Mihakwa

According to the World Health Organization, alcohol consumption and underlying problems have significantly increased over the decades.

According to data, most of the rise in alcohol intake has been located in developing countries. Third world countries are dealing with challenges in particular since they have few alcohol prevention programs and not very many treatment options.

Alcoholism can be attributed to nearly 2 million deaths worldwide every year, the research indicated. Russia and countries formerly involved in the Soviet Union take up a vast majority of these deaths due to alcohol consumption. It's extremely dangerous to your health to consume more than 8 liters of alcohol each year, according to medical science and the World Health Organization. WHO states that Russians consume an astonishing 15 liters of alcohol on average annually, which is another factor in the breakdown of society.

Alcoholism can initiates problems which are not only health related. Violence, traffic accidents, alarming absenteeism rate of the workforce, shattering family units, prostitution and child neglect are all examples of underlying problems of alcoholism. Historically, Russians greatly suffered from exaggerated alcohol consumption. Nations of the North were always known to have lower physiological resistance to the effects of alcohol, which led to greater addiction to it. Just like some aboriginals of North America or citizens of Nordic countries, Russians quickly fell under the weight of alcoholism.

While the communists were in power, in order to try and rescue Russia from these problems, Lenin attempted to ban alcohol beverages in all forms, both making and drinking. Stalin quickly fixed this prohibition, so it ended up doing little good. Gorbachev attempted to pick the alcohol ban back up in 1985. A part of the plan was to aggressively promote soft drinks and non alcoholic beverages, and prices were increased three folds to decrease purchasing. However, this merely resulted in people ingesting other beverages that contained intoxicating ingredients, like ethanol or ethyl - colognes and solvents and the like - and "Samogon," a vodka-like chemical, was created for illegal sale.

Mr, Gorbachev's unpopularity within the Russian society is largely caused by his fierce determination to combat the alcoholism. With the arrival of Yeltsin to power and the dissolving of the URSS, Gorbachev's efforts were wasted. Needless to remind of the drunken speeches given by former Russian President, Yeltsin, when addressing the nation during the New Year`s eve.

Russia has the 162nd highest life expectancy of all the countries in the world, the CIA claims. Russians' life expectancy is close to that of people of Bhutan and Papua New Guinea, where as an average Russian lives around 66.3 years on average. Alcoholism can be directly linked to the low and falling life expectancy of people living in Russia. Apart from alcoholism, notorious Russian mistrust to common items such as resveratrol vitamins can also be considered as a contributing factor.

Now, 17% of Russian newborns are believed to be afflicted with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since 1998, sales of alcoholic beverages other than vodka and wine such as beer have tripled. Advertisement on billboards and television promoting beer is becoming more prevalent, and it seems as though the advertisements are geared towards young people.

It is sold as a tool of greater life appreciation, as a symbol of social ranking or personal strength - it is marketed as anything other, than what it really is: deadly poison of the nation. In my opinion Russian government needs to implement strong measures against popularization and advertisement of alcohol, and effective measures for treatment of the existing alcoholism problem. - 30540

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