Russia's idea of drug treatment 'communes' are far from what we see at treatment facilities here in the West. Viktor Ivanov, Head of the Federal Drug Control Service, stated that the "Theraputic centers and communes will be set up in those regions where there are vast areas of unoccupied farm land and a shortage of manpower," and would also provide space for addicts ordered to seek treatment by courts to undergo labour therapy and agricultural work.
Currently in Russia, state-run rehab centres and church-run clinics are very limited in number and often full, and private clinics are not surprisingly much too expensive to be afforded by most. Even those few centres currently in existence have been harshly criticized in regards to the medications used, absence of proper counselling and the lack of efficacy.
Even Ivanov himself has mentioned on occasion that there is no money set aside for rehabilitation programs.
"The problem of 8 million drug users and 30 million of their relatives will remain outside the sphere of the governments activities. The rehabilitation program has been officially approved, but without money the program will not work," Ivanov said.
If an addict is lucky enough to secure a space in one of the private or church-run clinics, they risk seeking treatment at facilities where there is absolutely no licensing program in place for the clinic itself or its employees and treatment providers; many of which have been the source of frightening allegations and reports of abuse.
In 2013, Andrei Charushkinov, director of a private clinic in Siberia, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to nine years in prison after the 2011 death of a patient in his care. Investigators also found that Charushkinov had been abusing patients for years, and warnings about the centres abusive practices can still be found online.
The few government run facilities in existence are not much better - with activists, specialists and addicts alike all criticizing Russia's use of anti-psychotic medications, like Halperidol, to treat drug addiction in these facilities.
"The use of antipsychotics like Halperidol has its roots in repressive Soviet psychiatry. At that time, these drugs were used to break the will of political prisoners and dissidents...But they are still used now to treat drug addiction," a 2012 report by the Andrei Rylkov Foundation concluded.
With Russia's tough stance and refusal to provide intravenous drug users with access to methadone, clean syringes, safe injection supplies, and proven treatment options, the rates of disease will only continue to grow; right alongside the number of people suffering from the hell that is addiction.
"Russia is the world's largest consumer of heroin, with the country's market for the opiate estimated at $6 billion by various sources. The United Nations said last year that 75 tons of heroin was being brought into the country annually, though Russian analysts said that figure was closer to 10 tons a year."
It is a sad situation when there are addicts desperately seeking help, and yet next to nothing is available in terms of safe and effective treatment options. Clinics regularly turn away those seeking help due to lack of available space. If an addict is lucky enough to secure help in one of the facilities, they are faced with the possibility of abuse, stigma and insufficient or ineffective treatments.
Even if Russia succeeds in creating a new system of drug treatment communes, their constant denial of the proven effectiveness in harm reduction models is causing many desperate addicts to acquire diseases, or go untreated altogether; leaving them to needlessly suffer through addiction and the devastating effects it has on the user, their family, and the community as a whole.