Press release №1965
26.06.2017
DRUG ADDICTION IN RUSSIA: SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM AND WAYS OUT

IN BRIEF

  • 52% of Russians agree that the number of drug addicts has recently increased in Russia
  • 78% of Russians support criminal penalties for drug abuse
  • 12% of respondents report that there are drug addicts among their relatives

A rise in drug use and public support for more severe punishment for drug abuse were revealed during the VCIOM-Sputnik survey.

MOSCOW, June 26, 2017. The Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) presents the results of a survey devoted to the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The opinions about the probem of drug abuse have not changed much over the recent years:  the problem moved from being a social issue to the medical sphere. Thus, today 45% of Russians consider the drug addiction is a disease that needs treatment (31% in 2014). Fewer respondents regard the problem as a social disease (28% vs 37%) and feel threatened by the drug addicts than several years ago: the share of those who support the idea to isolate them from society has decreased from 28% to 21% (men (25%), persons aged 60 and over (26%), residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg (28%) give more categorical answers than women, youth and rural area residents).

Only 3% of respondents abstained from expressing an opinion saying that everybody has a right to do what he/she wants; this share is small (6%) even among those who personally know someone who is taking drugs. Every second respondent (52%) says that the number of drug addicts has increased; only 18% consider that the number has reduced.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (93%) are confident that any substances classified as drugs should not be available for purchase like alcohol or tobacco. Six percent of Russians support legalization of “soft” drugs. However, this share exceeds 10% among the 18-24-year-olds (12-13%), residents of metropolitan area (14%) and those who know personally drug addicts (12%).

As to measures aimed at combating drug abuse, more than three-quarters of Russians support criminal punishment (78%): across all social and demographic groups this percentage exceeds 70%, excluding Moscow and St. Petersburg (60%).

Twelve percent of respondents report to know someone who is taking drugs among relatives and friends.

The Medialogia Company analyzed the mentions of the “drug abuse” topic on the federal television and in press over the recent five years. More than 5,000 mentions were found; most of them are dated 2012 (1,300 mentions).

The VCIOM-Sputnik Russian nationwide survey was conducted on June 20-21, 2017, using stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of landline and mobile phone numbers operating in Russia, and involved 1,200 respondents. Russians aged 18 and over took part in the survey. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 3.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes in question wording and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.

Results for the 2014-2016 studies are based on household surveys.

The Russian media monitoring and analysis is carried out by the Medialogia Company using the Medialogia database of 41,200 sources such as television, radio, newspaper, magazines information agencies and online media. The period of study was January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2017.

What is your attitude toward drug addicts? (closed-ended question, one answer, %)
  2004 2005 2010 2014 2017
Drug addiction is a disease, and those people need medical help 29 37 36 31 45
Drug addiction is a social problem; what should be treated is society itself 37 30 32 37 28
Drug addicts are dangerous people; they should be kept in isolation 26 25 24 28 21
Drug use is a private affair; I do not condemn those people   6 7 5 3 3
Don’t know 2 1 3 1 3
What is your attitude toward drug addicts? (closed-ended question, one answer)
  Total respondents Those who know someone who uses drugs Those who probably know someone who uses drugs but are not sure about that Those who do not know anyone who uses drugs
Drug addiction is a disease, and those people need medical help 45 38 44 47
Drug addiction is a social problem; what should be treated is society itself 28 29 35 25
Drug addicts are dangerous people; they should be kept in isolation 21 20 14 23
Drug use is a private affair; I do not condemn those people  3 6 4 2
Don’t know 3 7 3
In your opinion, has the number of drug addicts in Russia increased, decreased ad stayed at the same level over the recent years? (closed-ended question, one answer, %)
  Total respondents Those who know someone who uses drugs Those who probably know someone who uses drugs but are not sure about that Those who do not know anyone who uses drugs
The number has increased 52 68 48 50
The  number has remained the same 13 11 14 14
The number has decreased 18 15 23 18
Don’t know 17 6 15 18
There is a point of view that soft drugs are not harmful, could be made available and used like tobacco or alcohol. Do you agree with that or not? (closed-ended question, one answer, %)
  2004 2010 2014 2017
Rather agree 9 7 7 6
Rather disagree 85 90 89 93
Don’t know 6 3 4
There is a point of view that soft drugs are not harmful and can be available and used like tobacco or alcohol. Do you agree with that or not? (closed-ended question, one answer, %)
  Total respondents Those who know someone who uses drugs Those who probably know someone who uses drugs but are not sure about that Those who do not know anyone who uses drugs
Rather agree 6 12 7 5
Rather disagree 93 88 91 94
Don’t know 1 0 2 1
Do you approve or disapprove criminal penalties for drug abuse? (closed-ended question, one answer, %)
  Total respondents Those who know someone who uses drugs Those who probably know someone who uses drugs but are not sure about that Those who do not know anyone who uses drugs
Rather approve 78 76 73 79
Rather disapprove 20 20 26 18
Don’t know 2 4 1 3
Do you know anyone taking drugs among your friends and relatives? (closed-ended question, one answer, %)
  2004 2005 2010 2014 2017
Yes, I know 13 10 12 11 12
No, I do not know anyone  73 76 68 68 68
Maybe there is someone, but I know nothing about that 13 12 19 19 20
Refusal to answer 1 2 1 2 0
Note: Using materials from the site www.wciom.ru or wciom.com, as well as distributed by VCIOM, the reference to the source (or hyperlink for the electronic media) is obligatory!
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