Rise in alcoholism reported in Russia — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

Rise in alcoholism reported in Russia — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

Experts attribute the uptick to a number of factors, including the pandemic and geopolitical tensions

Russia’s federal statistics agency Rosstat has reported the first rise in the number of alcoholism cases nationwide in over a decade. The spike may have been caused by stress stemming from the pandemic, as well as “intensifying geopolitical confrontations,” according to experts cited by Kommersant newspaper on Monday.

The rise in Russia, however, was reportedly significantly less than corresponding statistics for the US and UK indicate.

In the Rosstat report ‘Healthcare in Russia-2023’, which was published in late December, the agency found that between 2010 and 2021 the number of newly diagnosed patients with alcohol dependence and alcoholic psychosis had decreased from over 150,000 to about 53,000 people.

In 2022, however, that number started to rise, with doctors reporting approximately 54,200 new alcoholism cases, with 12,900 suffering from alcoholic psychosis.

The initial reduction in alcohol consumption in the country has widely been attributed to a number of measures taken by the government, such as the restriction of alcohol sales and advertisement, as well as state programs aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle. These policies have also contributed to a decrease in mortality from alcohol poisoning by more than 53% over the past 15 years.

However, this positive trend has been disrupted, the Health Ministry has admitted, stating that it has observed “slight negative dynamics” with regards to alcoholism and alcohol-related deaths following the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with Kommersant published on Monday, psychiatrist and narcologist Ruslan Isaev confirmed that there has been a noticeable increase in cases of alcoholic psychosis and requests for treatment since the beginning of the pandemic. According to him, the spike may be attributed to “socio-economic upheavals, increased geopolitical confrontations and sanctions pressure.”

Similar data has also been recorded in other countries in the wake of the pandemic. In the US, federal data has shown that alcohol consumption, which had already been increasing for several years, saw accelerated growth during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The number of deaths caused by alcohol also skyrocketed during that period, rising by more than 45 percent.

In the UK, health officials also reported a 24% increase in alcohol purchases during the pandemic, which resulted in a significant increase in alcohol-related deaths, including an unprecedented 21% increase in alcohol-related liver disease deaths, particularly among heavy drinkers.

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