Much is being made of the Russians' style of dealing with their growing addiction problem, reportedly due to flooding of the marketplace with the drugs from Afghanistan. They lock down addicts -- handcuffing them to their beds -- until the urge to consume the drug passes.
The objections to this approach are pretty standard (and I agree with them):
Most experts in drug treatment condemn this approach as a primitive, brutal and ineffective way to address the problem, saying that addiction is a much more complex and intractable challenge and that simply drying out cannot bring a lasting cure.
"What they present as drug treatment has absolutely no basis in evidence," said Diederik Lohman, a senior researcher at the monitoring group Human Rights Watch.
So why, then, do Russian authorities insist this approach is overwhelmingly effective?
Despite the outward dissimilarities between Russian methods and the approach taken in the United States -- where we regard addiction as a disease, not a bad habit or way of life to be stripped off of people -- there are actually quite a few similarities between our Russian comrades and us in this area:
- We both seek simplistic answers that fail to grasp the enormity of the life challenges faced by many addicts, who lack job skills and productive engagement, who don't have social connections to the non-addict world, and who can't see a path on which to retrack their lives away from their addictions.
To bring things full circle, it's sort of like how leaders in each country remained convinced that their unique and superior methods of conducting war in Afghanistan meant that they would emerge victorious in that domain too, despite all the evidence proving them wrong.