10 facts you might not know on global drug use

The UN has published its annual report on drug use around the world. Based on data from 2010, the annual snapshot gives a unique look at patterns of illicit drug use, production and consequences.

Here are 10 remarkable facts taken from the report:

  1. Around 230 million people (one in every 20) took illicit drugs at least once in 2010
  2. There are around 27 million problem drug users in the world
  3. US prescription drug abuse is rising, deaths from misuse have quadrupled since 1999 and now clearly outnumber deaths involving heroin and cocaine combined
  4. In Europe 1/3  women who try taking painkillers without a doctor’s consent go on to become regular users
  5. Australians and New Zealanders consume more cannabis than any other country
  6. The cost associated with drug-related crime in England and Wales is the equivalent to 1.9% of UK GDP
  7. In 2011, global opium production reached 7,000 tonnes
  8. Africa and Asia now account for 70% of heroin users
  9. An 18% drop in cocaine production (since 2007) has led to a fall in consumption in North America
  10. Around $68 billion is generated globally from illicit drugs every year

In an unusual move by the UN, they have also commented on future drug trends. Here are 5 predictions forecasted in the report:

  1. Cannabis will remain the most widely used illegal substance
  2. The largest increase in popularity is likely to be seen in the use of synthetic drugs such as “legal highs” and the non-medical use of prescription drugs “diverted from legal supplies”
  3. It would cost between $200-250 billion (0.3-0.4 per cent of global GDP) to cover the cost of drug treatment worldwide
  4. The number of illicit drug users is expected to rise 25% by 2050, mostly in the urban populations of developing countries
  5. The biggest growth area in illicit drug use is most likely among women, as cultural barriers disappear and gender equality improves

 The full snapshot can be viewed online here.

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