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From heroin to codeine: painkiller addiction hits Russia

Published time: April 23, 2010 23:02
Edited time: April 23, 2010 23:02

The Russian Drug Control Service has called to tighten control over medications containing codeine – now available in every pharmacy.

The measure comes as a reaction to a wave of painkiller addictions that have sky-rocketed in Russia in recent years with drug users switching to a cheaper, but no less deadly way to get high – codeine-containing meds.

Ironically, the reason for that is the successful work of Russia’s law enforcement bodies, which have been successfully fighting heroin trafficking from Afghanistan. This made the drug extremely expensive and hard to get, forcing drug users to look for new substances which, as is turned out, can be extracted from rather cheap medications available over-the-counter in Russian drug stores, such as desomorphine.

“The amount of confiscated desomorphine has increased by 30 times in the first quarter of 2010 compared with the same period last year. It’s a snowballing and uncontrollable process. The country and Russian society have encountered an entirely new threat – the challenge of medicinal pharmaceutical drug addiction,” the head of the Russian Drug Control Service, Viktor Ivanov, told RT.

Russian authorities plan to limit the medication’s sales and make it available only by doctor’s prescription.