Global and Regional Drug Trends

MLPWEB0152-Drug-Trends-(MT)

As a Maritime Organisation that works internationally, employing multi-national Crews and travelling across international trading routes, it is hard to stay up to date with global drug use trends. However the safety of your vessels and crews can be improved by taking into account regional variations. Why not read our summary of Global and Regional Drug Use Trends, so you can see quickly and simply the information that may affect you.

Global Facts & Trends

  • Around 246 million, or 1 in 20 people, aged between 15 and 64, used an illicit drug in 2013 – an increase of 3 million from the previous year.1
  • Around 27 million, or 1 in 10 drug users, are problem drug users.1
  • An estimated 12.19 million drug users inject drugs. Three countries, the Russian Federation, China and the USA, account for nearly 50% of that figure.1
  • Around 6.3 million injecting drug users had hepatitis C and 1.65 million had HIV in 2013.1

Regional Drug Use

Globally as you can see there are millions of drug users, however regional use can vary massively between ‘continents’ and on a country by country basis. We’ve broken the information down into regions so you can easily see the information that is available and relevant to you.

Jump to region: Asia | Europe | The Americas | Middle East & Africa | Oceania


Asia Drug Use

 

Increasing Use

  • Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) use is increasing, including ecstasy1 and methamphetamine, in East and South East Asia.2
  • Methamphetamine remains the most popular drug in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea2 and use is rising in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.3
  • Opiate use in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan is among the highest worldwide, at an average of 1.5% of the adult population, nearly four times the global prevalence rate.3

High Use

  • Opiate users total 16.5 million worldwide, two thirds are in Asia.1 Opiates, mainly heroin, is the most used drug in China, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.2 There are an estimated 3.15 million injecting drug users in East and South-East Asia, this is a quarter of worldwide users.1
  • Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Pakistan, with an annual prevalence of 3.6%.3

Other Facts

  • In Asia the number of people accessing treatment for cannabis-use disorders is small, but the proportion of first-time entrants (62%) is the largest. Compared with other regions, cannabis users in treatment are typically in their twenties, in Asia they are typically in their thirties.1
  • Cannabis is the most prevalent drug used in Indonesia.2
  • Within Nepal the main drugs used are domestically cultivated cannabis and opium.3
  • Methamphetamine use within Pakistan is very low when compared to other substances in the region; its use was detected for the first time only recently.3
  • The Maldives, in comparison to neighbouring countries, has low prevalence of illicit drug use. Cannabis resin, opioids, and alcohol are the most commonly used substances.3
  • India has an estimated 10.7 million drug users, 8.7 million for cannabis and 2 million for opiates.4

Europe Drug Use

 

Increasing Use

  • Heroin use is increasing within Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Europe is 1 of 2 regions where the majority of treatment admissions are for opiate use.1
  • Cannabis is the most widely consumed drug in Western, Central and South East Europe.5,6 It’s estimated retail value is more than €9 billion per year, with over 22 million annual users, making it the largest drug market in Europe.7
  • Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) use is increasing in South East Europe.6 Methamphetamine use is increasing within Europe1 and it has recently been reported in Finland, Norway and Sweden.5
  • New psychoactive substances (NPS) use is increasing in West and South East Europe. In September 2013, the European Commission reported that “more than 2 million people in Europe… are taking pills or powders that are sold to them as ‘legal’… Every week, one new substance is detected somewhere in the EU…”.5
  • Legal highs use rocketed in Romania in 2009 and have reportedly replaced heroin in Bucharest between 2010-2012, with increasing injection rates.6

High Use

  • Within Europe the proportion of first-time treatment entrants for cannabis-use disorders is high.1
  • Cocaine is the most commonly used stimulant in Europe. High prevalence of use is mostly within Western and Southern Member States7 with use in South East Europe remaining stable.6  Western Europe has the largest cocaine market after North America.5 In Europe the cocaine market has expanded in the last decade and is the second most popular controlled drug after cannabis,5  with a retail market estimated to be worth €5.7 billion per year.7
  • High levels of heroin use have been reported within Western European Countries including Ireland, Luxembourg, Italy and Malta.5
  • 91 million injecting drug users reside in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, 24% of the global total.1 Italy has the highest number of people who inject drugs in Western Europe, with over 326,000 users, followed by the UK and France, each with over 120,000 users.5
  • In Estonia synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and buprenorphine, are reported to have displaced the use of opioids, such as heroin (a semi-synthetic).8
  • Similar to this the Russian authorities have reported that desomorphine (known as ‘krokodil’), acetylated opium and fentanyl have been used as substitutes for heroin.8

Other Facts

  • Heroin use is decreasing in Western and Central Europe, while opioid use remains stable within South East Europe.1,6 The EMCDDA estimate that heroin is still a large market worth €6.8 billion per year.7 There are an estimated 1.5 million European opioid users.1 Within Western Europe countries reporting low heroin use are the Czech Republic, Germany, and Spain, among others but that heroin is the main opiate consumed in the region.5
  • Cannabis is the largest European drug market (38%), followed by heroin (28%) and cocaine (24%). The estimated retail market for cannabis is at least €24 billion a year.1
  • Ecstasy use appears to be decreasing in several European countries, with mephedrone and other NPS perhaps serving as a substitute.1 The market for amphetamines is estimated to be worth at least €1.8 billion per year and €0.67 billion for ecstasy.7
  • Within South East Europe the illicit use of sedatives and tranquilizers is common in several countries, such as Romania.6

The Americas Drug Use

 

Increasing Use

  • Illicit drug use is increasing in the USA, 24.6 million people aged 12 plus, 9.4% of the population, had used an illicit drug in the past month in 2013, an 8.3% increase since 2002. Drug use among people in their fifties and early sixties is also increasing.9
  • Both cannabis and methamphetamine use is increasing in North America.1 In both Canada and the USA lifetime use of cannabis is over 40%, much higher than in South America. Chile and Uruguay have higher use rates within the South American countries, where lifetime use of cannabis is around 20%.10
  • Non-medical prescription opioids use is rising in Canada, as is injecting use, replacing heroin as the most commonly injected drug in some cities. They are now the fourth most prevalent form of substance use behind alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis, with 500,000 to 1.25 million users, surpassing heroin and cocaine in prevalence.11
  • The new psychoactive substances (NPS) market in the USA and Canada is one of the largest and most diversified in the world, with reports almost quadrupling between 2010 and 2013. Synthetic cannabinoids made up 31% of the total NPS market in 2013, followed by synthetic cathinones at 24% and phenethylamines at 22%.10
  • Ketamine; a 2010 survey in Argentina, on general population drug use, showed a lifetime prevalence for those aged 12‐65 of 0.30%, higher than the rate for opiates (0.07%) and prescription stimulants (0.05%). In Uruguay, a similar survey in 2011 showed lifetime use at 0.60%, higher than lifetime use of methamphetamine (0.20%), opioids (0.18%) and prescription stimulants (0.03%). Costa Rica, Chile and Colombia see similar rates of ketamine use.10

High Use

  • Opioid use remains high, 3.8% in relation to the global average in North America, where there are 2.07 million injecting drug users, 17% of the global total.1
  • Cannabis is the most widely used drug in the Caribbean.12 Within North America, the proportion of first-time entrants for cannabis-use disorders is high. 1
  • Ecstasy past year use is always higher among men than women in the Americas, excluding Belize where the difference in use between genders is minimal.10
  • South America has one of the world’s largest cocaine markets.

Other Facts

  • Drug use is low in the Caribbean, excluding cannabis and cocaine. Injecting drug use is rare in the region with the exception of the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico.12
  • Ecstasy use appears to be decreasing in the Americas, seizures dropped by 81% between 2009 and 2012.1 However in terms of lifetime prevalence, rates are higher in the USA (6.8%) and Canada (5.3%) than South American Countries such as Uruguay (1.5%), Colombia and Barbados (0.7%), Venezuela (0.6%), Belize (0.5%) and Chile (0.4%).10
  • Cocaine use continues to decline in North America, data from the USA shows a drop in cocaine use in the general population between 2002 and 2013, from 2.5% to 1.6%.1,10 The expansion of the cocaine market in the 1980s and the Caribbean’s location on the shipping route, created a rapid increase in cocaine dependence within this region.12
  • Heroin has been present in Mexico, the USA and Canada for some time, and appeared to be confined to those countries; however, recently a few countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have reported heroin use.10
  • 2013 statistics show that 6.5 million Americans aged 12 or over, that’s 2.5% of the population; had used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month.4

Middle East and Africa Drug Use

 

Increasing Use

  • Cannabis use is high and increasing in West, Central1 and North Africa.5 It is the most widely used drug on the subcontinent, with use in Africa being is much higher than the global average, 5.2-13.5% of the population aged 15-64.13
  • Methamphetamine use in Iran and Israel14 has risen and significantly so in South Africa in 2000s.13
  • Opioids, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), and cocaine use has been increasing in North Africa since 2012.14
  • Opioids, ATS, methamphetamines, cocaine, stimulants, and prescription medicines (notably tramadol) are on the rise in the Middle East. 14
  • Cocaine, cannabis, tranquilizers, and sedatives use is increasing in Algeria, and cocaine and opiates in Morocco.14

High Use

  • Khat use is particularly high in East African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Uganda and Madagascar.13
  • Cocaine use is high in West, Central and Southern Africa.13
  • Heroin use is high along the East African coast (Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles and the United Republic of Tanzania). The practice of injecting heroin is increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa.13 Egypt has the highest use of heroin in North Africa, as well as a high demand for cannabis.14
  • Cannabis use is prominent throughout North Africa.14
  • Captagon tablets are in high demand in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria.14

Other Facts

  • ATS use is spreading to other areas of Africa such as Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.13
  • Opium smoking is a traditional practice in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Iran and Iraq.14
  • The emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) use, particularly synthetic cannabinoids, has been reported in the Middle East and in Egypt. However, apart from Egypt, NPS use is relatively low in the region.14

Oceania Drug Use

 

Increasing Use

  • Cannabis use is increasing in Oceania and continues to be high;1 the IDPC state that it’s high compared to other regions in the world, at 9.1% to 14.6% of the population aged 15–64.15
  • Cocaine use increased from 1.4%-1.7% in 2009 to 1.5%-1.9% in 2010; mainly reflecting increased use in Australia and New Zealand.1

High Use

  • Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) use rates are high (1.7%-2.4%), both for ecstasy (2.9%) and amphetamines (2%-2.8%).15
  • Opiate use is estimated annually to be 2.3%-3.4%; this is higher than the global average. Prescription opioids are used more than illicit heroin.15
  • Within Oceania the proportion of first-time entrants for cannabis-use disorders is high.1

Other Facts

  • Oceania’s annual drug use, excluding heroin, remains much higher than the global average.15
  • There are significant numbers of people who inject drugs in Australia (149,591) and New Zealand (20,163), with opioids being the most commonly injected.15

If you would like to discuss how regional trends might be affecting your Crew please contact our sales team via toxeu.international@alere.com or call +44 (0)2077 128 000.

 Sources / Further Reading:

  1. https://www.unodc.org/documents/wdr2015/World_Drug_Report_2015.pdf
  2. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/east-and-south-east-asia
  3. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/south-asia
  4. http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/indias-soaring-drug-problem-455-rise-in-seizures-26787
  5. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/western-europe
  6. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/south-east-europe
  7. http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/2373/TD0216072ENN.PDF
  8. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/eurasia
  9. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends
  10. http://www.cicad.oas.org/oid/pubs/DrugUseAmericas_ENG_web.pdf
  11. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/north-america
  12. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/caribbean
  13. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/sub-saharan-africa
  14. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/middle-east-north-africa
  15. http://idpc.net/policy-advocacy/regional-work/oceania
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email
This entry was posted in Drug News, General News, Maritime Solutions. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *