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The Biggest Hangover In The World: Russia Has Just Come Off A Two Week Holiday Drinkfest
January 16, 2013
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the-biggest-handover-in-the-world-russia-has-just-come-off-a-two-week-holiday-drinkfest-feature1.jpg

It's no secret that Russians have a taste for vodka. But apparently, they like a lot of other kinds of alcohol too.

Over the past two weeks, people across Russia have essentially been having an extended New Year's party - which has involved a lot of drinking.

It started December 31 with New Year's Eve and ended with the Russian Orthodox Church's New Year on Monday.

So, how much did they drink?

Well, according to Russia's Research Center on the Federal and Regional Alcohol Market, Russians spent $400 each on alcohol during those two weeks.

Okay, so what is that in actual volume?

Well, Norma - a medical research network - estimates that Russians drank more than 1.5 billion litres of alcohol over the holiday.

That includes 100 million bottles of beer, 100 million bottles of champagne and 250 million bottles of vodka, 80 million bottles of wine, 10 million bottles of cognac and 1.5 million bottles of other drinks such as rum, gin, tequila and whiskey.

Or to put it another way - one expert told the Guardian that if you lined up all those bottles of alcohol along the equator, they would wrap around the world 17 times.

the-biggest-handover-in-the-world-russia-has-just-come-off-a-two-week-holiday-drinkfest-feature2.jpg With so much drinking, doctors are warning people it could be up to a month before they're fully recovered.

"Long holidays are, in any event, bad," said Yevgeny Bryun, Russia's top medical drug official.

"Long-term abuse of any alcohol is always bad - it has chronic toxic impacts. Alcohol is only fully processed after three weeks."

Long holidays aren't great for Russia's economy either.

According to a state-run news agency, economists figure that Russia's GDP misses out on some $30 billion during that time.

In fact, during the holiday season, life pretty much shuts down. Russian stock markets are closed. Newspapers shut down. Most people don't go back to work until at least January 9.

There is a serious side to all of this as well.

More than 23,000 people in Russia die of alcohol poisoning each year. Another 75,000 die of alcohol-related diseases, according to state statistics.

According to a study in 2009, "If current Russian death rates continue, then about 5 percent of all young women and 25 percent of all young men will die before age 55 years from the direct or indirect effects of drinking."

As the Washington Post points out, Russians have some of the "riskiest patterns of drinking," when you consider things such as festive drinking, drinking in public, drinking every day and the amount consumed per occasion.

Here's a 2005 map the Post put up from the World Health Organization.

the-biggest-handover-in-the-world-russia-has-just-come-off-a-two-week-holiday-drinkfest-feature3.jpg

Authorities have taken some steps to control things. Stores aren't allowed to sell alcohol anymore between 11pm and 8am.

And street vendors are no longer allowed to sell alcohol at all. As well, beer is no longer classified as a "food item."

That means it falls under the same buying and selling rules as hard alcohol.

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