Problem of Substance Abuse in Ukraine

Nataliya Vlasova

Vlasova, Nataliya 2005-2006 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow (Ukraine), Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health, United States

Substance abuse has been of epidemic proportions for the last 15 years in Ukraine. The problems’ growth is critical today. The consumption of alcoholic beverages is estimated to be responsible for about nine percent of the total disease burden within Ukraine. Laws affect social norms, and alcohol use is a function of these social norms. Laws also have an impact on availability, and when availability increases, so does the prevalence of people’s drinking. Despite alarming statistics, drinking and alcoholic drinks continue to be an integral part of the social elixir, globally. In summary, genetic, developmental, and acquired biological factors affect a person’s alcohol use. Drug addiction in the Ukraine has its peculiarities. While in the majority of countries drug consumption is an individual matter, it has a group character in the Ukraine. Opium poppy straw extract continues to be the main drug of choice. Marijuana is growing in popularity among young people and use of synthetic drugs is appearing with increasing frequency. Hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin are too expensive for the average Ukrainian citizen, so their levels of abuse are still not significant. From the beginning of the 1990’s the numbers of drug dependant grow annually by 10-12 percent, 27 percent of them are adults, 60 percent are teenagers and 13 percent are children, aged from 11 to 14 years. Drug addicts, aged 20-30 years, are becoming a prevailing category of users, and this is a distinguishing feature in recent years, which corresponds with the general European tendency. In 2002, the Ukraine registered the highest, and among the fastest-growing, rates of HIV infection in all of Eastern Europe. The spread of HIV is being driven by injection drug use and, to a lesser but growing extent, unsafe sex among young people. Cases of parent-to-child transmissions have shot up. Today 40 percent of those infected with HIV/AIDS in the Ukraine are women. Some 97 percent of HIV-positive children were infected by their mothers.


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