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Donbas Alcoholics: True or False

Mykola is interested in social roots of stress and burning out of workers in mines

The Image of Donbas Alcoholics and Stats

  • As a result of stress and burning out, the health of miners worsens due to the enormous consumption of alcohol. It is the psychological and cultural consequence of above mentioned factors. The transition from the ground to the underground was quite difficult and painful. According to Mikheeva (2014), this contributed to the alcohol addiction prevalent among workers. The image of “Donbas alcoholics” is quite common in Central and Western Ukraine.
  • The Donetsk oblast is a leader in the sphere of alcohol psychosis. Doctors witness that if, for example, in Western oblasts of Ukraine there are 200 cases of psychosis among 10 thousand persons a year, at the same time in Donbas oblast - 30-40 ones every day. It is per year approximately 6-7 thousand. In number of alcohol psychosis the Donetsk region stood on the first place in Ukraine. In general, according to statistics the oblast comprises 90 thousand of alcoholics.

The Play of Words in Russian: Zaboy-Zapoy

Difficult situation

Difficult situation

Alcoholic Traditions

  • The journalist Yevgeniy Yasanov describes the alcoholic traditions in Donbas quite picturesquely.
  • Tradition to celebrate the first successfully made shift with the libation appeared when miners had finished the first shift in Yuzovka (modern Donetsk). As the miner’s profession was always deathly dangerous, this tradition was understood and forgiven, else it was difficult to withstand everyday underground strain. In miners’ settlements the legends about the miner uncle Vasya from prewar Lidiyevka go on.
  • During many years he was hiding “samogon” (hard Ukrainian drink) stashes among family stocks of bottled fruit and vegetables. Well proportioned ranks of bottled tomatoes and cucumbers were masking splendidly the three liters glass bottles with “samopal” (handmade drink “samogon”).Thanks to his genial conspiratorial qualities all the brigade was having possibility to crouch to the life-giving source. Unfortunately, he fell in one of mines’ accidents.
  • The friends discovered his last regard after some months. Vasya died, but the tradition lives, and will live not yet till the last kilogram of coal will not extract from Donetsk bosom.

Barrack Culture

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  • The next social factor connected with others is psychology of housing. In the 1950s, in Donbas miner towns, small and great, there was so called “barrack culture”. This phenomenon arose in the first fives with its minimization of living conditions. It happened due to absence of alternatives, another choice, just so little. Domination of working class led to forming of “proletarian culture”. As a result, it occured certain marginalization of urban social environment. It was spread not only in the 1950s, but in following periods.
  • Here, it’s necessary to add propaganda of internationalism and atheism, beginning from the education to other fields of culture. Transformation and devaluation of ancestors’ values took place in conditions of church’s annihilation. Propaganda of atheism with internationalism was dominant. The totalitarian regime was distorting constantly the system of values.
  • A personality was “grounded”, feelings of cultural and political community were done leveling. Moreover, the national idea, mother tongue, belief became unimportant. Instead of it, readiness for primary values (self-saving, means for existence) was hypertrophied.

Why did They decide to Booze?

Non-Sufficient Infrastructure

In postwar decades in Donbas it formed educational and scientific infrastructure, but according to number of population was non-sufficient. Thus, the number of library, clubs in the expectation for 100 thousand inhabitants was lower that the average indices in Ukraine. Moreover, the part of theaters was non-comparable with the one of region’s population.


Hurrell, J. J., Jr., & Murphy, L. R. (1991). Locus of control, job demands, and health. In C. L. Cooper & R. Payne (Eds.), Wiley series on studies in occupational stress. Personality and stress: Individual differences in the stress process (p. 133–149). John Wiley & Sons

Mikheeva, Oksana.(2014).[video lecture]. Retrieved from 26.

Alcohol:TO BE or NOT TO BE?

True or False ?

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