Primary Sources

Young Alcoholics in the Soviet Union


Before the era of the Gorbachev reforms, social and health problems could not be easily discussed in the Soviet Union. The emphasis for public health was on keeping people healthy so that they could work better and more productively. Alcoholism remained a persistent problem for the Soviet Union; its frequent appearance as the subject matter in Soviet posters suggests the problem was widespread. To control the problem, preventing children from drinking became the subject of a 1970s health campaign. In this poster, one young man with a bottle is offering alcohol to another. The slogan warns: "Alcoholics Remain!" declaring the ever-present danger of being led astray. In other words, alcoholism was a problem of degenerate individuals (here seen in shadowed grey) instead of a Community issue. Without acknowledging alcoholism as a medical issue, developing a treatment to a public health crisis was not even possible.


"Alcoholics Remain!," Soviet Union, courtesy of the Wende Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 1971.

How to Cite this Source

"Young Alcoholics in the Soviet Union," Making the History of 1989, Item #84, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:27 pm).