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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Russia to Drug Addicts: Drop Dead

The Moscow Times reports:

Russia's failure to provide adequate treatment for drug addiction is leaving addicts "virtually to their own devices" to battle substance abuse and putting users at an increased risk for serious diseases, an international human rights group said Thursday. The effectiveness of drug addiction treatment in Russia "is so low as to be negligible," Human Rights Watch said in a summary of a 110-page report on Russian drug-dependence treatment. "This leaves [drug abusers] vulnerable to HIV infection, other drug-related health conditions, and death by overdose," Diederik Lohman, senior researcher in Human Rights Watch's HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program, said in the report. Exacerbating the problem, the report said, are short treatment periods, few state rehabilitation centers and the fact that addicts are hesitant to seek help because their names are entered into a registry of alcoholics and drug addicts. Furthermore, it said, Russian bans the use of methadone and buprenorphine in treating people addicted to opiates -- such as heroin -- despite evidence of their effectiveness in other countries. Yelena Sokolchik, a senior drug addiction official in City Hall, dismissed several of the report's claims. "All patients whom we manage to persuade to undergo rehabilitation are treated for at least a year," she said. Federal health officials had no immediate comment.

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