29.5 million people globally suffer from drug use disorders: World Drug Report 2017

GENEVA — In 2015, about a quarter of a billion people used drugs, of these, around 29.5 million people or 0.6 percent of the global adult population were engaged in problematic use and suffered from drug use disorders, including dependence, according to the latest World Drug Report, released on Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC.

Opioids were the most harmful drug type and accounted for 70 percent of the negative health impact associated with drug use disorders worldwide. Issues related to the use of amphetamines also account for a considerable share of the global burden of disease and while the market for new psychoactive substances, NPS, is still relatively small, users are unaware of the content and dosage. This potentially exposes users to additional serious health risks.

This year marks 20 years of the World Drug Report, which comes at a time when the international community has decided to move forward with joint action.

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov highlighted that the outcome document of the 2016 landmark UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem contains more than 100 concrete recommendations to reduce demand and supply, however, he acknowledged that more needed to be done.

“There is much work to be done to confront the many harms inflicted by drugs to health, development, peace, and security, in all regions of the world,” Fedotov said.

In 2014, transnational organised crime groups across the globe were estimated to have generated between one-fifth and one-third of their revenues from drug sales. Mobile communications offer new opportunities to traffickers, while the darknet allows users to anonymously buy drugs with a crypto-currency, such as bitcoin. While drug trafficking over the darknet remains small, there has been an increase in drug transactions, of some 50 percent annually between September 2013 and January 2016, according to one study. Typical buyers are recreational users of cannabis, “ecstasy”, cocaine, hallucinogens and NPS.

The spectrum of substances available in the drug market has widened considerably, the report says. The opioid market, in particular, is becoming more diversified, with a combination of internationally controlled substances such as heroin and prescription medicines that are either diverted from the legal market or produced as counterfeit medicines. NPS continued to evolve such that by 2015, the number of reported substances had nearly doubled to 483 compared to 260 in 2012.

Opium production is up and the cocaine market is thriving. In 2016, global opium production increased by one-third compared to the previous year and this was primarily due to higher opium poppy yields in Afghanistan. The report also points to the expansion of the cocaine market, such that from 2013 to 2015, coca bush cultivation increased by 30 percent mainly as a result of increased cultivation in Colombia. Following a period of decline, there are signs that cocaine use is increasing in the two largest markets, North America and Europe.

Source: Emirates News Agency