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    Russia hopes to halve number of drug addicts by 2014

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    The introduction of punitive measures and mandatory treatment would allow Russian authorities to reduce the number of drug addicts in the country by half in three years.

    The introduction of punitive measures and mandatory treatment would allow Russian authorities to reduce the number of drug addicts in the country by half in three years, Russia's anti-narcotics chief, Viktor Ivanov, said.

    According to the UN data, there are 2.5 million drug addicts and over 5.1 million drug users in Russia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered in April to prepare a draft document that introduces medical treatment as an alternative to legal measures against drug addicts.

    "Drug addicts would have to choose between punishment and treatment," Ivanov said in an interview published in the Izvestia newspaper on Wednesday. "If we introduce this system, I believe that in three years the number of drug addicts in Russia will be reduced at least by half."

    Ivanov stressed that medical treatment should be preferably applied in the early stages of addiction to ensure the effectiveness of this measure.

    Russia, which is the main conduit of drugs originated in Afghanistan, holds the first place worldwide in the number of heroin addicts. Over 90 percent of drug addicts in the country use heroin.

    MOSCOW, May 25 (RIA Novosti)

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