Quick follow-up to the last post regarding Russian “harm augmentation”. Susan Richards in Transition writes in more detail about academic, medical and political responses within Russia.
However, the official view, articulated earlier this year by Russia’s [chief public health officer] Gennady Onishchenko, is that “substitution therapy is a first step towards the legalization of drugs.”
Top officials are even prepared to falsify the facts to back up their government’s position: “The Russian Federation is not alone in its resistance towards methadone,” Onishchenko claimed, erroneously, in Rossiskaya Gazeta in March. “In the USA, where methadone is produced, the laws of the country prohibit its free circulation in society and don’t allow it to be used in substitution treatment.”
Professor Nikolai Ivanets, former chief narcologist of the Russian Federation, claimed equally fancifully at an inter-agency meeting in March 2007 that “European countries have stopped using methadone to treat addicts because it has failed – that’s why they are now turning to prescribing heroin.”
The situation is tragic but what seems remarkable to me is that with just a few tweaks this describes the state of tobacco harm reduction in North America. And the situation in Russia will be considered outrageous and bizarre by the same people that support the presently ludicrous domestic tobacco control policies.