Student diplomats among worst drug users

March 2, 2001

Moscow State University has the highest proportion of drug users among its student body of all Russia's universities, a dubious honour it shares with the International Relations Institute that trains Russia's future diplomats.

Up to 5 million Russians are regular drug users, 60 per cent of them in the 18-30 age group, the Russian ministry of health announced last week. The survey by Moscow State University shows that most of these are "highly intellectual" young people, attending elite higher education institutions.

Latest figures indicate a big rise in the use of hard drugs -cocaine and heroin -which were previously little known in Russia. During 1996-99, the proportion of heroin addicts among the patients of Russia's central hospital for drug treatment rose from 30 to 80 per cent.

As far as the universities are concerned, there seems little chance of improvement in the figures for drug users in the near future. For, according to the health ministry figures, young people of primary and secondary school age make up 20 per cent of Russia's drug users, with some precocious addicts beginning while still in kindergarten.

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