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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

One in 10 Muscovites Has Used Drugs

VedomostiThe top addictions official weighed in on rising drug use and the failure of measures to control it Friday.
Every 10th person inMoscow has taken illegal drugs atleast once intheir lives, atroubling statistic inwhat is part ofa growing drug epidemic, thecountry’s top addictions doctor said Friday.

"The number ofMuscovites who have consumed drugs atleast once intheir life is about 1 million, or 10 percent ofthe city’s population," said Yevgeny Bryun of the Health and Social Development Ministry, Interfax reported.

And thenumber is onthe rise growing 1 percent to2 percent every year, he said.

"In2000 there were 23,000 [habitual drug users], and in2012 there are 32,000," he said, adding that about 15 to30 percent ofMoscow university students use drugs.

Bryun’s figures reflect officially registered drug users, while experts say the true number is closer to80,000.

Bryun put thetotal number ofaddicts throughout thecountry at550,000, andcasual drug users atabout 5 million.

He criticized the laws in place that criminalize drugs, saying such laws take thewrong approach and do not help the problem.

"What do I do with these 5 million? It's impossible tojail all ofthem, andas soon as they know about their criminal liability, they will disappear andwe won't even be able toidentify them," he said.

Bryun's figures foralcoholism were even more grim. He said 30 to40 percent ofthe population abuses alcohol — a"colossal figure" concentrated mostly outsidebig cities like Moscow. He suggested that employers take amore constructive approach towardintoxicated employees rather than just firing them.