Information on drugs for Russian teenagers
(Le Téléphone de la confiance)
02 / 2002
Drug-using is the most difficult social problem among youth in the post-soviet Russia period. Officially, the number of teenagers using drugs has risen rapidly since 1992 to 2001 increasing by 31 times.
Russia is facing an explosive growth in drug consumption and trade. According to the Russian Interior Ministry’s statistics, the number of drug seizures more than tripled between 1990 and 1999, reaching almost 66 tons in 1999. Between 2.5 and 3 million people in Russia, or about 2 percent of its population, regularly or occasionally take drugs according to Interior Ministry data.
The use of heroin, which appeared in Moscow and other big Russian cities in the second half of the 1990s, has rapidly spread, especially among teen-agers.
The increase in intravenous drug use has contributed to a dramatic rise in HIV and AIDS cases in Russia.
This phenomenon is relatively new and Russian society and mentality have not yet adapted to it. Drug users are often rejected and considered as not able to recover. Drug prevention campaign are not given priority and suffer from low funding.
Programs for rehabilitation of drug users including specific medical treatments such as substitution drugs or addiction treatment are seldom, and need to be organised.
According to Public Charity Foundation "The Rubikon" the Sverdlovsk region (central Russia) has been on first place for number of Drug-users in 1998 .
Recent sociological researches has presented following situation: 60 per cent of teenagers tried different types of drugs, 10 per cent are wishing to try, 26 per cent are constant users. More than 42 per cent Sverdlovsk teenagers had stated that there is no problem to find drugs, 33 per cent among them know places for drugs selling.
Experts consider that the increasing number of drug-users among youth might be connected with a lack of information about consequences and sequels of using drugs. International experience shows that information and prevention campaigns are really efficient whenever they address teenagers directly and their cost is really low compared to necessary treatment to cure teenagers after they fall into drug addiction. The open phone line is one of the most convenient tool to communicate with teenagers because it offer them anonymity and allow them to ask any questions at any time and do not require them to come to a specific place.
In Sverdlovsk region in 1999 was adopted by Regional Duma a law for prevention of drug using.
The NGO, Ural Foundation for Social Innovations-UFSI-, is a member of the fighting drug NGO council at the Ural Federal District and participates to the Regional anti-drug committee .
Currently there are 6 open phone lines in Ekaterinburg, 4 of them work round the clock.
Since 1997 UFSI is supporting The Information and Consultative Center the "Telephone of Trust". This project was awarded a grant of Eurasia Foundation in 1998 and Know How Foundation in 1999. and from Ekaterinburg City Administration during the first grant competition among social programs.
It provides 24 hours psychological counseling by telephone for drugs users, their friends and families as well as abused children. The goal of the program is work against youth drugs using and connected with it crimes, promotion among young people of Ekaterinburg civilian and active mode of life and defense of children’s rights. The target groups, and direct and indirect beneficiaries is composed of teenagers and youth of the region, and also teachers of high schools, and parents of teen-agers.
Long-term objectives of the project is to contribute to prevention and struggle with drug-using among youth and teenagers in Ekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk region.
The project will also increase public awareness to the problem of drugs by dissemination of true and reliable information among all citizens, and in particular, school-children, youngsters, parents, teachers.
Telephone of trust teams are fully specialized with teenagers issues and behavior so they can provide them with adequate counseling and can propose them personalized solutions to their particulars problems, including participation to talk groups and individual meeting with professionals (psychologists, jurists, social workers and so on).
Up to 18 to 25 per cent of calls received at Trust phone concerns questions on drugs by teenagers. Sometimes, Trust phone consultants are not experienced enough or do not have required skills to answer teenagers questions, consequently they are forced to transfer them to social centre Holis which increase anxiety of callers. Many do not dare to address to another centre and are then lost for counselling.
This situation and the increasing number of youth in distress has led the UFSI to look for a training programme for its consultants on how to deal with teenagers confronted with drug problems. A training program for Trust phone consultant would allow consultants to answer efficiently to any questions without losing contacts will callers and accompanyign them all along the procedure. Consequently increasing efficienvy and autonomy and self capacity of trust phone teams and offering a global listening and couselling service.
The project is designed by Ural Foundation for Social Innovation in co-operation with the French NGO Association France-Ural.
Association France Oural and UFSI have been working together since many years. On this particular project, conferences have been held by France Oural specialists summer 2000 for Telephone of trust project team on teenagers psychological support by Isabelle de Kochko.
These conferences leaded to publication of articles in French magazine "Migration Santé".
Drug related issues are starting to be addressed in Russia mostly by civil society organisations. Young people are directly concerned by drug and lack appropriate information. On the model of anti drug information campaign Russian NGo try to provide them with accurate information, yet often eluding AIDS/HIV issues.