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Russian Roulette and Risky Activity Part 1

There is no better analogy for risky activity, such as drugs, alcohol, unsafe driving, raging, sexual promiscuity, than that of Russian Roulette.

Russian Roulette is a self-destructive game originating in Russia, in which a group of people gather with a pistol with one random round in it, spinning the barrel.  Each takes a turn pointing the pistol at their head and shooting, hoping and betting that they will not get the single round.  Five out of six people end up surviving, and one dies.

According to, approximately 15 million Americans are “dependent” on alcohol.  A reported 500,000 of them are children between the ages of 9 and 12.  In 2009, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.7 percent of the American population used “illicit drugs”.

How is drinking and drug use like Russian Roulette? 

First, there are mountains of studies and evidence over the past many decades that indicate that there are genetic factors that increase the possibility for substance addiction.  Since, as of yet, there are not many conclusive tests that can predict substance sensitivity or addiction, we cannot know who is likely to become an addict and who is likely not to.  Setting aside genetic predisposition, there are many environmental, emotional and psychological factors that increase the likelihood of substance problems and addiction.  This makes your relationship with these substances a crapshoot at best.

There are no guarantees with “street acquired” substances

Second, there is the possibility when you are using substances that are “street acquired”, they may or may not be what they say they are, and may be tainted with any one of a number of poisonous substances.  Chances are you don’t have the wherewithal to test the substances for authenticity.

How Drinking and Substance Abuse is NOT like Russian Roulette; Only Worse!

Third, granted, the Russian Roulette theory does not entirely hold water, in that in Russian Roulette, if you get the bullet, you die, no questions asked.  With substances it is insidious in another way.  While you may not die, you may not even know that you are affected.  Addicts are the last to know that they are addicts. Many effects of substance abuse are cumulative, and have slow but lasting adverse impacts on brain development, physical and psychological health. In a way, it is more insidious, because at least in Russian Roulette the one who gets the bullet virtually dies every time, while in substance use the damage is more subtle, covert and unpredictable.


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