284M used drugs worldwide in 2020, says UN report

Number of people suffering from various ailments due to drug use soars to 38.6M in last 10 years, says UNODC report

Askin Kiyagan   | 27.06.2022
284M used drugs worldwide in 2020, says UN report Homeless people are seen on streets of the Kensington neighborhood as homelessness and drug addiction hit Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, United States on November 9, 2021. ( FILE PHOTO - Anadolu Agency )


An estimated 284 million people between the age of 15 and 24 used drugs worldwide in 2020, a 26% increase over the previous decade, said a UN report released on Monday.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) report, titled World Drug Report 2022, pointed out that “young people are using more drugs, with use levels today in many countries higher than with the previous generation.”

The report noted that the number of people suffering from various ailments due to drug use has increased to 38.6 million in the last 10 years.

According to the research, cannabis is the most widely used drug in the world, with 209 million people using it in 2020. Cannabis consumption has surged by 23% in the last decade, the report said.

"Cannabis legalization in parts of the world appears to have accelerated daily use and related health impacts," it added.

As around 61 million people are addicted to synthetic drugs called "opioids,” approximately 34 million people used amphetamine-type substances and about 20 million people used ecstasy and 21 million used cocaine in 2020.

While over 11 million people worldwide were injecting drugs, "around half of this number was living with hepatitis C, 1.4 million were living with HIV, and 1.2 million were living with both," according to the report.

People who inject or use drugs are 35 times more likely to contract HIV than the general population, the report said.

There was a noticeable increase in the number of people who lost their lives due to drug use in 2020, and the rate of those who died as a result of substance abuse increased by 17.5% between 2009 and 2019, it added.

In 2019, 494,000 people lost their lives due to drugs, with the number of people dying as a result of synthetic drug use reaching the highest levels, particularly in the US and Canada.

Opioids and similar substances cost the lives of 93,000 people in the US between 2019 and 2020.

The report said that Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Mexico produce 95% of the world's opium.

"Opium production worldwide grew seven per cent between 2020 and 2021 to 7,930 tons – predominantly due to an increase in production in Afghanistan. However, the global area under opium poppy cultivation fell by 16 per cent to 246,800 in the same period," it noted.

There was no serious regression in substance use and drug trafficking during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there was an increase in the use of synthetic substances, particularly cannabis, the report added.

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