UKRAINIAN PSYCHIATRY NEWS Brief reports, abstracts and selected full text articles in English
More than 1000 full text articles in Russian and Ukrainian

Youth and Drugs (Sociology of Narcotism) »


A. N. Postupnoy

* Originally in Russian:
Postupnoy, A. N. (2000). History and today situation: evaluation of expert-narcologists. In: Youth and Drugs (sociology of narcotism) (eds. V. A. Sobolev and I. P. Rushchenko), pp. 222–254. Kharkiv: Torsing.

Narcological situation in the region in the forties and the fifties

Narcotism at this stage is mainly a medical problem. Drug addicts of the fifties in the Kharkov region were few and represented the homogeneous social group — these were men of middle and senior age, as a rule, invalids of the Great Patriotic War of the 1 st and 2 nd group or patients with heavy somatic diseases. They’ve been developing drug dependence as a result of medical application of drugs as anaesthetics. Sometimes their friends and relatives were getting accustomed to them. Practically all drug addicts were morphine addicts. You could see women among drug addicts extremely rarely and children and teenagers were completely absent.

Drug addicts were registered in medical institutions and they were officially given drugs. Other forms of drug addiction were practically unknown. There was no special prevention of drug addiction in that period. The society had a problem of people, sick with drug addiction, but in fact there was no drug addiction as a social problem. It is the most unexpected — in the twenties drug addiction swept over the Soviet Russia. It was liquidated for less than 20 years. To the given moment the country came out of the heaviest war and it practically always caused a splash of deviations and narcotism, but in this case it didn’t happen, drug addiction didn’t revive. Theoretical reconstruction of the qualitative parameters of the society and then realized measures is necessary for creation of the modern model of the solution of this problem.

Growth of narcotism in Kharkov region in the sixties–seventies

Drug addiction is turning into a classical social problem. But the growth of the number of drug addicts with small initial quantities didn’t attract attention at once. The change of the social composition is going on: the number and share of drug addicts of middle and old age, invalids and people with heavy somatic diseases is decreasing.

Their share by the end of the sixties is decreasing to 10-15%. The rest — new generation, primarily connected with the criminal world.

Narcotism remains primarily male and urban, but from the late seventies the share of female narcotism is gradually increasing and penetration of drugs into the countryside is taking place. The average age of population decreases, the share of the youth and then of the teenagers and children is growing. If in the early sixties the youth of 20–25 years of age was 15–20% of the general number of the population, then already 10 years after the category reaches 50% The teenagers’ narcotism is growing as well, its share reaches 15–20%.

The composition of the drugs used is changing: the use of soporifics and sedatives (noxyron, barbiturates, tranquillizers) is increasing, the use of hemp and its derivatives is growing, new forms are appearing: stimulators (ephedrine, ephedron, pervitin (methamphetamine-racemate), phenamin (amphetamine)) and hallucinogens (cyclodol and others). The drugs primitively made of vegetable raw materials are being used on a larger scale, an illegal market of drugs is forming. The attitude of the society to drug addicts is changing- they are perceived as criminals or as amoral degraded people.

The social problem already exists, but the level of narcotism was still of a “background” character. Only about 5% of the young people were involved in drug taking, including those, who tried only once.

Since 1959 the specialized narcological departments and consulting rooms are being created. The process of their formation, equipment, training the personnel qualification is going on. The system of cooperation of narcological institutions with state institutions is being established, public forms of fighting with narcotism are widely spread. In 1975 narcology is separated from psychiatry and becomes independent. The creation of the social institution of prevention and fighting with narcodiseases, adequate to the situation formed by this time, begins in Ukraine.

The growth of rates of narcotization of the youth since the early nineties

The distinctive feature of the third stage — rapid growth of rates of narcotization of the country, the process acquired the character of an epidemic. The characteristic periods inside the given period; 1982–85 — the growing of the rates of growth and number of drug addicts; 1986–90 — reduction of the rates of growth of narcotization; 1990–96 — epidemiological character of the drug addiction spread; from 1997 to present- some reduction of the rates of growth, the signs of the situation beginning to stabilize.

Special acuteness of the period of the middle of the nineties. Simply connecting it with the structural crisis, the Ukrainian society found itself in and catastrophic by their consequences attempts to overcome it, experts give the main reasons and factors of this phenomenon: social and economic crisis; destruction of social and cultural environment; general deterioration of the state of health of the population; accessibility, relative cheapness and total advertising of tobacco and alcohol; total propaganda of drugs by films and video films, by the mass media and show business; attack of organized narcobusiness; destruction of the created before system of prevention and fighting with drug addiction.

Drug addicts become significantly younger. Group of 19–24 years of age, covering about 65% of the sum total, prevails numerically. Significant part of drug users made their first take much earlier- when they are 12–14, at 14–15 they actively make experiments with drugs, and at 16–18 they form drug dependence. Experts think that from 30 to 50% of today’s youth are familiar with drugs. Drug addiction became a fashion, an attribute of the youth subculture. The rates of growth of narcotism in the countryside surpass the town ones. Female drug addiction is growing. The consumption of medical forms is decreasing. The drugs made primitively from vegetable raw materials prevail. Their share according to the experts, reaches 90%.

The stabilization of consumption of hard drugs, connected with the injection type of introduction, takes place because of the fear to catch HIV infection. Wide spread of hemp and its derivatives.

Drug addiction will grow on growing in the next 5–7 years. In general the formed system of factors, determining the narcotization of the youth will remain.

There is the most acute necessity of development of the state program of fighting with the youth narcotism.

The main factors of the youth narcotization

The singling out of all sum total of the factors, influencing the narcotization of the youth, some their functional minimum as a basis of the development of the state program under conditions of the resource deficiency. Three interconnected components of the mechanism of the narcotization: the human being, his microenvironment and the impact of social factors on him. The analysis of all components and the disclosing of the inner nature of their influence.

The analysis of the key role of a fixed orientation in the determination of the narcotization, in the interpretation of the influence of social factors on the motivational structure of a personality.

The singling out of the factors and the situations of the risk of narcotization on this basis and, correspondingly the determination of the directions of their prevention.

The substantiation of the idea about the direct interconnection of the degree of drug spread in society with the level of social optimism of its population, taken in the most general case as an internalization of a society objectives and a belief in their achievement. There is an attempt to present all significant changes of the dynamics of narcotism spread from the fifties to the present time from this point of view. There is actuality of the institutionalization of the system of fighting with narcotization.

The problems of the institutionalization of the system of prevention and fighting with narcotism

Revealing the basis of the current disfunctioning of the prevention system and fighting with drug spread among the youth. The necessity of the solution of tasks referring to various logic stages of the process of institutionalization, beginning from the first — understanding the essence and acuteness of the problem and statement of the objective of the activity, to the final stage — creation of the system of control.

The consideration of the remarks and proposals of the experts in the given sequence.

The society doesn’t still realize in full measure the acuteness and danger of the problem: the growth of narcotism took the scale, dangerous for the nation and the reaction of the leadership of the country (in the form of programs of fighting, additional resources etc.) is absent.

There is uncertainty of the objective of the future institution and, consequently, the impossibility of developing its strategy. Taking into consideration the scarcity of resources, experts talk about the possibility of gradual growing of the level of objectives, but striving for the significant reduction of the scale of drug addiction should be a reference point. There is a problem of drug legalization, the pros and cons.

Russian full text version >>

© Ukrainian Psychiatry News, 2001
Editorial board:
ISSN 1990–5211