Drinking away the Pain (2003): More and more Russians are turning to drink to help numb the pain of post-Soviet life.
Russians consume over half the world’s hard liqueur. Vodka is often cheaper than non-alcoholic drinks and beer is marketed as a soft drink. As a result, alcoholism has reached record levels, pushing down life expectancies for Russian men to just 58. “As a rule, the Russian drinks until he falls. Some continue drinking even when they’re lying down,” explains one man. Unfortunately there are few places alcoholics can turn to for help. “I lost my family, I lost my house, everything,” recalls one former alcoholic sadly. He’s one of the lucky ones – a church charity took him in. For most Russian alcoholics, the only refuge available is a humiliating night in a ‘sober-cell.’ “Russia has a very tragic history … we have permanently faced cataclysm. Alcohol helps weak people to escape,” explains theatre director Yuri Lubimov. Unless the quality of life for more people improves, Russians will continue to seek refuge in the most traditional of cures.
ABC Australia – Ref. 1901
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