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September, 2018
Volume 44, Number 3
  
26 March 2014
Greg Kandra




Father Ihor Hiletsky shows a picture of the grave of alcoholism in the village of Stankiv.
(photo: Yuriy Dyachyshyn)


While Ukraine has been very much in the news lately, something that isn’t reported much is the country’s serious problem with alcoholism and addiction. We looked at how the country was coping back in 2010:

According to a 2008 study on alcoholism conducted by the World Health Organization, Ukraine ranked at the top of the list of countries with the highest rates of alcohol consumption among children and young people. With a population of 2.5 million people, the Lviv Oblast (or province) falls within the mean of Ukraine’s 24 oblasts with respect to substance abuse, which includes alcoholism and drug use. Last year, between 1 January and 1 July, public health authorities registered 428 cases of alcoholism and drug addiction among people under the age of 18, and 35,248 cases among adults.

“That is only the official data,” says Dr. Myroslava Kabanchyk, the chief physician at the Lviv State Clinical Pharmacological Dispensary. “There are many more people like that, a great number of whom fear seeking medical treatment. If they did they would not be able to work or go abroad for five years. Many others have just not been officially registered, such as those over 60 or those who live deep in the Carpathian Mountains.” She estimates the real number of addicts and alcoholics far surpasses the official numbers...

...In 2003, Viktor Proskuriakov took part in “The Burial of Alcoholism,” a ritual in which parishioners from the Greek Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity in the village of Stankiv joined together and took an oath to give up drinking and end alcohol dependency. The crowd gathered around an open grave, which was filled with liquor bottles, to pray and symbolically bury the disease. Marked with a tombstone to remind villagers of their oaths, the grave can be seen from the road leading to the church and rectory.

Father Ihor Hiletsky, who serves as the church’s pastor as well as the coordinator of youth programs for the Greek Catholic Eparchy of Stryj, organized the burial.

“The idea to conduct a series of events exposing alcoholism as a sinister evil occurred in 2001 just after I had come to Stankiv,” says Father Hiletsky.

Read more about Burying Alcoholism in the January 2010 issue of ONE.