Moscow, Russia – In Russia, the spread of risky lifestyle –behaviors such as, alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs use, are among the highest in the world. Although restricted data on the epidemiological burden of substance abuse are available, there are no country-specific systematic evaluations of the overall burden imposed on the Russian economy caused by substance abuse. It is therefore important to have adequate social cost estimates in order to argue that policies designed to prevent and treat substance abuse should be among the highest priorities of the public policy agenda.
In the study “Social Cost of Substance Abuse in Russia,” researchers from the Institute of Health Economics, National Research University “Higher School of Economics,” evaluated the social cost of substance abuse in Russia. This country-specific evaluation gives a broader picture of the problem by looking at it not only from the health sector perspective, but from that of the economy as a whole.
The results of this economic study demonstrated that psychoactive substances impose a considerable economic burden on society. Analysis of the substance abuse social cost pattern shows that the main losses that society bears because of these behavioral risk factors fall outside the health care system and lay in other sectors of the economy such as social care, law enforcement, and productivity losses.
“In 2008, the social cost of substance abuse in Russia comprised 1965.9 billion rub. The social cost of substance abuse is determined to the greatest extent by alcohol consumption (comprising more than 45% economic burden). Illicit drug use comprises about 30% of economic burden and tobacco consumption about 25%. ”says Elena Potapchik, PhD, lead author on the study, and a leading researcher of the Institute of Health Economics, National Research University “Higher School of Economics.”