35M people worldwide suffer from drug use disorder: UN

585,000 people die as result of drug use, only 1 in 7 people receive treatment, says World Drug Report

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 26.06.2019
35M people worldwide suffer from drug use disorder: UN


Some 35 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders and who require treatment, according to a new UN report.

In a World Drug Report released Wednesday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) underlined the number of opioid users stood at 53 million, up 56% from previous estimates, and that opioids are responsible for two-thirds of the 585,000 people who died as a result of drug use in 2017.

The report said the higher estimates for 2017 are the result of improved knowledge of the extent of drug use from new surveys conducted in India and Nigeria, both among the ten most populous countries in the world.

"Globally, 11 million people injected drugs in 2017, of whom 1.4 million live with HIV and 5.6 million with hepatitis C," it added.

In 2017, an estimated 271 million people, or 5.5% of the global population aged 15-64, had used drugs in the previous year, according to the report.

A longer-term view reveals that the number of people who use drugs is now 30% higher than it was in 2009. Although that increase was in part due to a 10% growth in the global population aged 15-64.

Production record of cocaine

Estimated global illicit manufacture of cocaine reached an all-time high of 1,976 tons in 2017, an increase of 25% as compared to the previous year, the report said, adding that the global quantity of cocaine seized rose by 13% to 1,275 tons, the largest quantity ever reported in the same year.

More than 47,000 synthetic opioid overdose deaths recorded in the U.S., an increase of 13% from the previous year, and 4,000 opioid-related deaths in Canada, a 33% increase from 2016, it said.

It also said that the global seizures of tramadol -- another synthetic opioid which cause serious problems especially in West, Central and North Africa -- jumped from less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) in 2010 to almost 9 tons in 2013 and reached a record high of 125 tons in 2017.

"The most widely used drug globally continues to be cannabis, with an estimated 188 million people having used the drug in 2017," the UN report said.

Prevention, treatment continue to fall short

“Prevention and treatment continue to fall short in many parts of the world, with only one in seven people with drug use disorders receiving treatment each year,” the UN report said.

It underlines that effective treatment interventions based on scientific evidence and in line with international human rights obligations are not as available or accessible as they need to be, and national governments and the international community need to step up interventions in order to address this gap.

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