While drinking coffee in the center of Saint Petersburg City, two college students Alina and Helen saw a few beggars, who were asking for the money. “They stared at us, and I felt sorry for them”, says Helen, 21. “Alina said they needed some money for vodka, not for their babies or for medicine while I really wanted to help”.
This situation seems to be a typical one. People stumble across dozens of poor men in every big city. Some people feel sorry and try to help like Helen; meanwhile some like Alina don’t feel anything towards beggars. Most Russians believe either a big gun makes money out of these beggars or people in raged clothes are asking money for vodka. “I am tired of men lying in the sidewalks, on the benches in the subway, on the stairs. It’s a shame”, says Alina, 20.
Some scientists say alcoholism is dangerous in any dose. Some German scholars say alcohol starts to damage a person’s brain in 6 minutes after he has drunk a few bottles of beer. It’s interesting that both female and male brains react equally. However, some experts say female alcoholism is more dangerous, as a mother is more connected with a kid than a father. It’s a few times harder for women quit drinking then for men. The latest report in 2007 show that women suffer from alcohol more than men. There were no special conditions: the representatives of the 2 sexes had to fall into binge drinking for a few weeks. All the participants were from 18 up to 40 years old. There were 24 women and 78 men. The representatives of the 2 sexes fell into binge drinking for a few weeks and then they had to stop drinking for a while. The results showed that men were more successful in mental and visual tasks while women just failed.
Alcoholism is a well-known hard disease. People know it quite well; however the statistics shows relatives of abuse-drinkers use different methods. According to a webpage http://www.zhitzdorovo.ru, which is an official partner of Russian Health Care Ministry, published an interesting article about coping with alcoholism. 1/3 of all people who participated in the survey said they hide the money, 45 % say they hide alcohol while 1/4 claimed they help their drinking relatives talk to police, go to a doctor, take care of themselves.
According to the official data, 600- 700 thousands of Russians die because of alcoholism. Lots of families break up because of a drinking parent, violence in families exist because of alcoholism. More than 4 million Russian kids don’t know their parents; many children do not know their fathers. “6 out of 11 guys in my group do not know their fathers, 3 parents either drink heavily or do not care about the kid at all, which means only 2 fathers are normal”, says Alina.
The young lady had an opportunity to live both in a big city and in a small rural town. She says people in rural areas seem to drink more than in dwellers of mega polices. “They have no work, they have no occupation, they become lazy’, says Alina. She adds it’s absolutely normal when an 8 year old drinks pure spirit in villages and remote areas.
Alina shared with me a story of her neighbor who lived near Moscow. The man was in his late fifties, he spent the whole life working at a shoe factory. “I remember I was a small girl, and he gave a pair of pink shoes for my Birthday”, says Alina. “People loved him as he was a very generous person”. In late 90ies the factory was closed, people lost their jobs. Alina remarks the population haven’t had any freedom of choice – some left their villages for big cities, some started to drink heavily. “Peter’s daughter got married and moved far away. He didn’t have a job himself. There was nothing to do, so he started to drink. His wife tried to understand him but when she told the husband he had to quit drinking, the man started to hit her. They woman had to put up”. Alina says Peter was a binge drinker, but he never admitted it.
Alina’s neighbor had problems with abdominal system, so his wife had to go to another village to get some special medicine. “When Mrs. Olesya was gone, Mr. Peter invited his friends. They were drinking the whole evening”, explains Alina. Once the guests were gone, the man fell asleep with a cigarette in his mouth. “He burnt while alive, the house burnt, the cows, goats, sheep burnt. It was a shock,” reports the college girl.
Alina remembers her neighbor Peter started to lose his mind a few years before the terrific situation. He became aggressive, and he also got memory lapses. Doctors say these symptoms, plus a refusal in social and physical activities, withdrawal symptoms are obvious signs of having a libel “an alcoholic”.
However, this situation is shown here not to say drinking is a systematic problem. Some strong-willed people may quit drinking as easy as ABC. Some weak-willed may join a special world-wide society that has a few hundred branches in Russia, and it’s caledl Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It’s quite interesting that the first branch was opened in 1987 in Moscow, just when the Gorbachev’s “Dry” Law was laid out. The main thing winthing a society is a desire. If you want to say “no” to drinking, a few dozens of people with the same problem will help you. Hope and faith are crucial. People don’t have to pay any fees, the organization is absolutely free.
Alina says her neighbor was not aware of the problem of drinking abuse, so he never thought of joining the society. Moreover, there are no chances to do that in rural areas.
Strangers may come to a conclusion Russians love to drink like Germans like to eat sausages or Japanese eat sushi. However, there is nothing in such a stereotype on Russians. Despite being a part of a culture, alcoholism it’s a nationwide problem. Unless people start to be aware of their actions, have plans for the future or just dreams, anything positive in this direction is unlikely to happen.