"Cocaine for beggars" in Russia
They call it "cocaine for beggars" - cheap synthetic drugs which flooded streets of many cities of Russia.
Mephedrone and mephedrone alike synthetic stimulant drugs came in Russia last year and rapidly have expanded drastically. Dealers sell these substances as "bath salt", "rat poison", "plant feed", «air freshener" etc. Social workers say that the drug scene has totally changed over a year and nobody wants opiates or other "illegal stuff" - current treads in drug use is homemade substances which people get from pharmacy` medicine - widely being sold without any prescription needed and "legal drugs" - stimulants produced by loads of mini labs.
Drug control police officials know about these new markets developments, but hardly can do anything to respond. They haven`t got any legal mechanisms even to confiscate drugs from dealer`s shops - these are usually tobacco kiosks or sometimes grocery corner shops. There are many online stores selling new "legal stuff" as well.
While Russian Drug Tsar Mr Ivanov consolidate efforts with the US in order to combat Afghanistan heroin traffic, it seems like heroin doesn`t have demand in Russia any more.
"My dealer complains that he has a huge non-distributed stock of heroin - nobody wants it." - says Alexey, drug user from Kazan. "People just gone crazy because of this "legal stuff" and everyone stuck on it now. I have also a friend in our local drug control police - he told me that they recently tried to confiscate a large amount of this new stimulant drugs, but finally dealer sue them in the court, so they had to return the stock."
"Mephedrone came to Perm City in April of 2010 and in moments became extremely popular drug of choice. The most of heroin drug users have switched to it and as mephedrone stimulates sexual activity and people are losing control - we`ve got significant increase in newly acquired HIV cases in our city. Considering that there is absolute legal trade of these substances in the city we can expect escalation of the epidemic in the future" - says Dmitriy, social worker from Perm.
"Tver city has also been taken with mephedrone derivatives or "legal" as drug users call it - says Igor, harm reduction expert from Tver - "We had to remember the time of "open drug scene" and Gypsydoms. We walk for outreach - syringes, mobile services. They demand vein care balms, as "legal" requires to inject very often. But luckily, if you "miss the vein" when inject mephedrone the consequences are not so horrible comparing with a pharmacy drug Coaxil or "croc" as drug users call it. One more new thing - increase in sex practices and drug users ask for condoms now, however, due to a lack of any safe sex culture among a part of this group they got HIV sexually transmitted nowadays. Different groups of drug users are in one melting pot now - old opiate users and new young generation of kids, who doesn’t relate themselves to "junkies" and doesn`t think that much of HIV risks etc. Now we are trying to develop an information leaflet on mephedrone harm reduction for drug users. Generally speaking, I think we can work with that and work effectively and I`m sure that all regions of Russia shall come on it sooner or later.