Chief drug enforcer proposes opening halfway houses for former drug addicts

The Russian Federal Drug Control Service proposes opening halfway houses for former drug addicts.

"Rehabilitation of drug addicts is a rather long process, so people should live and work at halfway homes, sort of therapeutic communities," Service Director Viktor Ivanov told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.

He said he had visited a halfway house in Italy, whose residents were growing grapes and making wine.

"Former drug addicts are growing grapes and making wonderful Italian wine in a non-profit entity under the patronage of the government and with its grants," Ivanov said.

Ivanov proposed earlier to offer drug addicts a choice between prison and hospital.

"I would like to call your attention to the alarming statistic data. Almost half a million people are sentenced for drug-related crimes in this country," Ivanov said.

Some 147,000 of them do time at penitentiaries, and 113,000 have suspended sentences. There are nearly 200,000 administrative charges linked with the storing or consumption of narcotic drugs, he said.

Some 8.5 million people in Russia consume narcotic drugs regularly or sporadically, Ivanov said on June 20. In his words, 18.5 million Russians have tried narcotics at least once. Up to 100,000 Russians die each year because of narcotics, Ivanov said.

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