A Sobering Topic for a Drunken Nation

There are many jokes made about the amount of alcohol a Irish, German, or Russian can drink and many people, college students in particular, rant and rave that they can drink just as much as a Russian can. The manhood of college males seems to be directly tied with how much he can drink. There is a lot information in the internet that should discourage people from drinking, but we give in to peer pressure, our emotions, and our desires to drink. Russia as a country was wounded by the treatment that it had at the end of World War II and the violence of the Cold War, so it is no surprise that Russia was a drunken nation.


iconic image from the anti-alcohol campaign

Not long after Gorbachev took office, he launched an anti-alcohol abuse campaign. He was trying turn around the economy of the country, but he needed workers to do so. Men showing up drunk to work, drinking during lunch breaks, and leaving early from work because the bars were opening, created a serious decline in production and the economy. Gorbachev wanted to decrease alcohol consumption and decrease that amount of alcohol that was produced.


Down with the drunks! Saying out loud

Gorbachev increased the price of vodka as well as put a rationing on the amount of vodka that a person can buy. These laws or dry laws cause many Russians to start brewing their own vodka and alcohol. During his time as president, Gorbachev was met with a lot of retaliation. There were illegal stills found all over the Soviet Union. The amount of sugar that was in demand to make the alcohol was making the Russian economy worse.


Vladimir Vysotsky

There have been songs and videos created for the anti-alcohol campaign the most famous song by Vladimir Vysotskii called Anti-Alcohol Song.



After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Alcoholics Anonymous was introduced and took roots in Russia. This was the first step to getting Russians to stop drinking. Even recently, Russia still has a problem with the amount of alcohol per capita drank. As of 2008, the life expectancy of the average Russian male has increased to 62 years.



Alcoholism is a disease that can infect anyone. Once your body becomes dependent on alcohol, you no longer have control over your own life. Remember there is a line between having fun and excess.

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13 thoughts on “A Sobering Topic for a Drunken Nation

  1. Nice post, I also did a post on the alcohol restrictions in the soviet union. Governments dont seem to understand that things only get worse when you take away alcohol. At least thats what history tells us.

  2. Interesting post! I didn’t realize that other countries also had a prohibition period. I also didn’t know that Alcoholics Anonymous had ties to Russia.

  3. I never knew that Russia had prohibition at one point in its history. I thought the fact about Male Russian life expectancy is so low, especially compared to the rest of the modern world and females.

  4. I think its interesting how the Russian anti alcohol campaign had similar outcomes to the prohibition laws put in place in the United States earlier. I guess people really want their alcohol and will do anything even brewing it themselves to get it.

  5. AA was never welcome in the Soviet period, largely because of the step requiring people to turn their problems over to a “higher power,” which ran counter to the state’s support of atheism.

  6. While aware of alcoholism in the Soviet Union and Russia, I never realized the seriousness of the effects this had on public heath, cutting into life expectancy rates. Lots of very good sources.

  7. This is a cool post because alcohol abuse seems like such an obvious thing to worry about to us today but it wasn’t always so. Russia was probably long overdue for a change by time Gorbachev tried to do something.

  8. It surprises me that the Russians did not learn from the American Prohibition. Americans brewed their own alcohol at home, organized crime rose, etc. It seems like there needs to be a grassroots temperance movement, instead of outlawing alcohol, in order to get people to stop drinking. Convince people drinking is bad, they’ll stop. Take their alcohol away, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

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