Exploring Drug Use in Ukraine Amidst Conflict – Part 1

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Drug use in Ukraine during the war has risen and this often happens during war. It happens especially on the front lines, as soldiers need something to help them cope. In 1973, many American soldiers in Vietnam were addicted to heroin and amphetamines such as Benzedrine. It was said that drug-addicted soldiers in Vietnam committed horrific acts on the Vietnamese people. Drug use during wartime is relatively common, and soldiers have been using drugs for a long time. Soldiers use drugs such as stimulants or narcotics to help them stay awake or to help them cope with the horrors of war. Civilian use of drugs in Ukraine is also something that Ukraine has been fighting for a long time. Ukraine has the highest use of opioids in Europe, and the production of synthetic drugs has skyrocketed since the war started. According to the Global Initiative, synthetic drug production in Ukraine increased by 4.50 points since 2021. The reason for this is that the production of synthetic drugs elsewhere has decreased. The invasion in Donbas and naval blockades have made it very hard for smugglers to smuggle in synthetic drugs from elsewhere. Synthetic drugs are still seeping through from Poland and through the Balkans.

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Synthetic drugs are not the only drugs that are circulating in Ukraine, but a specifically grown drug has become popular in Ukraine. The use of cannabis in Ukraine has become popular due to the decrease in imported synthetic drugs. cannabis is a relatively controversial drug, especially in the West. Some can find cannabis addictive and have destructive habits, while others need cannabis for certain copes and medical needs. The Ukrainian government sees cannabis in this light, and cannabis is legal in Ukraine but only in certain circumstances. Unfortunately in Ukraine, illegal usage of cannabis is high during the war. Ukrainian children who use substances use cannabis the most and widely use cannabis and inhalants as drug use. Drugs are becoming more accessible in Ukraine and it is hurting children the most. Ukrainian children have been reported to be using highly addictive drugs such as synthetic cathinone, otherwise known as “bath salts.” Bath salts can destroy the psychological health of the user and drive them to suicide. Ukrainians who threw themselves off of buildings as a method of suicide often used bath salts before suicide. Children in Ukraine are suffering from the effects of drug use.

Suppliers in Ukraine have their own methods of producing damaging drugs. Cannabis in Ukraine is still a big problem, as it is in high usage. Still, other synthetic drugs such as amphetamine, methadone, synthetic opioids, and synthetic cathinone can be outright detrimental to Ukrainians. It was often found that in occupied territories of Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens died from overdoses. Russia has zero tolerance for drugs and this can lead to the Russian authorities shutting down rehab centers for addicts. During the first month of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, there were many overdoses caused by the closing of rehab centers. Ukrainian addicts found themselves back on the street paying for the drugs that they were supposed to quit. The Ukrainians who fled Ukraine as a result of the war often found themselves in a state of agony.

Many displaced Ukrainians turned themselves to drugs as a way of coping.

Many soldiers in Russia, like soldiers in Ukraine, are addicted to drugs. Russia has zero tolerance for drugs, but they are lenient on drug users who serve on the front lines. The reason for this is that it is very honorable for a Russian man to be on the front line of Ukraine. The Russian government incentivizes Russian men to go fight on the front lines of Ukraine. There are many case files in Russian, of Russian drug addicts getting a lesser sentence because they served on the front lines. One addict named…

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