In the USSR, alcoholism was a terrible problem. So when Gorbachev became Secretary General of the Communist Party, he started an anti-alcohol campaign. It was supposed to be very popular with women who were tired of their husbands drinking themselves to death. Alcoholism caused sky-high rates of domestic violence. It was terrible for work productivity. It led to horrible rates of fetal alcohol syndrome, creating a whole generation of brain-damaged children.
So the campaign started. Alcohol disappeared from the stores. There were strict limits on how much alcohol you could buy if you did manage to come across it at a store. Vineyards were destroyed.
The campaign was so extraordinarily stupid that later a whole cottage industry of conspiracy theorists arose arguing that the anti-alcohol campaign had been created on purpose to manufacture an epidemic of drug addiction in a country that, until the campaign, had no problem with drugs.
Because that’s exactly what happened. Lower-income people brewed moonshine (samogon), sniffed glue, and drank cologne. Cologne disappeared from the stores because alcoholics started swilling it like crazy. And younger people turned to hard drugs. Immediately a huge drug cartel industry arose. Today, Russia’s younger generation is being wiped out by drugs. Russia became a world leader in non-sexually transmitted HIV because people shared dirty needles to shoot up heroin.
It’s needless to say that not a single alcoholic was cured by the anti-alcohol campaign. Many picked up a much more severe addiction to heroin. Many died of chemical poisoning. It’s still unclear whether this was done to give some people in the party leadership an extra source of income through the nascent drug industry or was just a dumb mistake.