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Youth and Drugs (Sociology of Narcotism) »


A. N. Yarmish, V. A. Sobolev, A. A. Serdjuk

* Originally in Russian:
Yarmish, A. N., Sobolev, V. A., Serdjuk, A. A. (2000). Political, legal and methodological basis of prevention of addictive behavior in Ukraine and Kharkiv region. In: Youth and Drugs (sociology of narcotism) (eds. V. A. Sobolev and I. P. Rushchenko), pp. 272–292. Kharkiv: Torsing.

The prevention of drug addiction is the problem of national security and ensuring the survival of the nation. It turns into one of the actual directions of the policy, the subject of activity of both the state structures and self-governing bodies, public organisations.

The policy in the field of prevention of addictive behavior

The policy in the field of addictive behavior prevention is realised on three levels: international, state and regional. Its realisation is connected with the activities of public organisations, private initiatives as well. The policy in relation to the drugs can be conditionally divided into three types; liberal, repressive and restrictive (“restraining”). At present the process of unification of approaches to the problems of drugs spread and drug addiction prevention is going on in the world community. But the national policy in this sphere retains some its peculiarities depending on the traditions and actual narcological situation in one particular country, which are reflected in the national legislation, decisions of the government and special state programs on fighting against drug spread. The Ukrainian policy as a whole can be characterized as restrictive.

The international level (foreign policy of Ukraine)

At the international level the policy of Ukraine in the field of drug prevention is defined by the norms of the corresponding UN conventions which were ratified in due time. First of all, it is the United Convention on Drug Substances of 1961, The Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 and The International Convention “On Fighting against Illegal Turnover of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances” of 1988. The analysis of international documents gives the possibility to stress two main directions of Ukrainian policy on drug spread prevention and prevention of their non-medical consumption. This is resolute and tough fighting against the illegal drug spread and the illegal market, from one side, and the humanisation of the attitude to the people, suffering from drug addiction from the other side.

The national level

The national policy of Ukraine has a peculiar character, which formation has an indelible imprint of long existence within the former state system. With the USSR break-up the system of state bodies called to realise the preventive measures among the population began to break up. The break up of narcological service — the main body carrying the responsibility for rehabilitation of drug addicts and realising the drug spread prevention, began. This process is going on practically up to now. In connection with it for the period since 1991 to 1999 the Supreme Rada, the President and the Government of Ukraine have adopted the number of normative documents, called to regulate the activity of state and public organisations in fighting with drug abuse and illegal turnover of addictive substances. The Cabinet of Ministers, dated December 14, 1993, ¹1034 has adopted the National Program on counteraction to drug abuse and illegal turnover of drugs for the period of 1994–1997. The program included 7 chapters. The second chapter of this program is devoted to the problem of drug addiction prevention. The National Coordination Board for fighting against drug addiction was organised in the Cabinet of Ministers for the realisation of the Program. The Law of Ukraine “About the Assistance to Social Formation and Development of Youth in Ukraine” says about the necessity of introduction of preventive measures, directed to the prevention of drug addiction. The National Antidrug Legislation stipulates the priority of the norms of the international law. The important role in fighting against drug spread in Ukraine is played by the Law of Ukraine “About measures of counteraction to illegal turnover of drugs, psychotropic substances, precursors and their abuse”. The given law acts together with the Law of Ukraine “About the Turnover of Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, Their Analogues and Precursors in Ukraine” and also together with the Criminal Code and the number of other normative documents. The problem of drugs is not forgotten in the Complex target program on fighting against crime for 1996–2000, adopted by the Decree of the President, dated September 17, 1996. The 4th chapter of this program is devoted to the fighting against drug addiction and alcoholism. Measures of counteraction to drug abuse are realised by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and other corresponding bodies and organisations. Measures, taken by the law and other bodies with the purpose of counteraction to illegal drug turnover can also be viewed as preventive measures. Ukraine is going along the way of referring of drugs to the subjects of permissive system, when the majority of operations with them are not allowed, and the permissions cover only the limited number of subjects of their turnover. The most dangerous, according to the opinion of the society, actions are referred to the sort of crime, which should be followed by serious punishments. Sorts of useful and necessary use of drugs are strictly regulated and should go on with the strong observation of strict measures of control.

The problem of drug legalisation

The comparatively new for our state phenomenon of lobbying the idea of soft drug legalisation appeared in Ukraine (“drug lobby”). First of all it is profitable to “shady” structures. The official structures consider the legalisation to be incompatible with the scientific medical doctrine of disease prevention and health protection and contradicts to the opinion of the international society. All history of struggle against drug addiction in Ukraine is characterised by referring to ways of hardening and improvement of the legislation with the use to the illegal turnover of drugs. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that human and adequate policy shouldn’t foresee the legal prosecution of consumers of addictive substances, with the exception of cases when they commit crimes.

The regional level

In connection with the general break-up and decentralisation of the narcological service, the situation of discoordination of various services and organisations connected with the problems of addictive behavior, has been formed in Kharkiv region. Attempts of introduction of a number of medical approaches, based on the ideology of drug addicts anonymous (NA) and alcoholics anonymous (AA) did not give desired results, in view of its not being adequate to the philosophy of the given psychotherapeutic program to the traditional mentality of the majority of the population of Kharkov. The attempts to use the ideology of AA and NA as an organisational and methodological basis of the narcological service discredited themselves. Despite Kharkiv being the most powerful scientific and methodological centrer in the field of narcology, the work in the field of the prevention of addictive behavior is practically not coordinated and is not carried in due scale. Various organisations of pseudoscientific character are successfully using it, having put this process on the commercial basis (NARCONON). The Fund “Vozrozhdenije” was engaged in this activity as well. As it is known this fund is supported by George Soros, the largest ideologist of the total legalisation of drugs. The drawback of the present system of addictive behavior prevention in Kharkov region is inadequacy and obsoleteness of the methods used. The target groups for primary prevention are traditionally the educational establishments — schools, colleges, institutes. But according to the data of our monitoring, already by the end of 1999 about half of the students (48.8%) had at least once tested a drug. And correspondingly, the given part of students is not the object of primary, but secondary prevention, which entails the use of absolutely new methods and ways, than traditionally practised. So it becomes more difficult to rely on old and tested methods of preventive work. Moreover, it is dangerous and harmful. Antidrug propaganda, which includes giving not complete, selective and not balanced data leads to penetration of harmful stereotypes and myths in place of information gaps in the youth conscience. Chats with the boys and girls of their age become their source. This has been fully confirmed by the data of the empirical research, mass questionnaires, made within the frame of international project. The structure of the information sources about drugs in the youth environment indicates two circumstances: first, the importance of the information about drugs, received from friends, in the company, has sharply increased and is prevailing at present (alongside with the mass media); second, the significant growth of the importance of information, received from drug consumers has taken place and that is a disturbing symptom. These data stress the urgency of the purposeful preventive work, including the supply of young people with truthful information about drugs. The frequency of preventive interference among the students is significantly higher than in general youth population, taken as a whole. Kharkiv youth feels the lack of information about drugs and the youth conscience has the readiness to fill need of it from reliable sources.

The absolute majority of those questioned (about 70%) doesn’t have a doubt about the necessity of the preventive work among the youth. To our opinion, it is necessary to build our policy and strategy of prevention relying on this fact.

Social technology of addictive behavior prevention

In every case the policy of narcotism prevention must be developed with the regarding to the real specific local conditions. The final objective of the development and realisation of this policy is the turning of the non-systematic prevention of the addictive behavior into the variety of the social technology. This technology should foresee both the reduction of demand for drugs and the reduction of supply of addictive substances in the region. The necessity of creation of the Coordination Centre for prevention of addictive behavior among the youth became immanent. Its composition should include the representatives of all services, involved in preventive work, both from the medical sector and non-medical one — legal, educational etc.

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