The world had 270 million+ drug users in 2020; UNODC 

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released its world drug report 2021 which accounts for around 275 million people who used drugs worldwide in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed on Junes 26th and this year the theme is “Share facts on drugs. Save lives” emphasizing the importance of strengthening the evidence base and raising public awareness so that the international community, governments, civil society, families, and youth can make informed decisions, better target efforts to prevent and treat drug use, and address global drug challenges.

According to recent global estimates, approximately 5.5 percent of the population aged 15 to 64 years has used drugs at least once in the previous year, with 36.3 million people, or 13% of all drug users, suffering from drug use disorders. Over 11 million people are estimated to inject drugs globally, with half of those infected with Hepatitis C. Opioids continue to be the leading cause of disease associated with drug use.

The report emphasized that the cannabis potency has nearly quadrupled in the United States over the previous two decades, while it has nearly doubled in Europe. However, the number of teenagers who perceive regular cannabis usage as harmful has dropped by as much as 40%.

Ghada Waly
Ghada Waly
Executive Director

 “Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use, and the findings of UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report highlight the need to close the gap between perception and reality to educate young people and safeguard public health.”

Although dark web drug markets have barely been around for a decade, they are currently valued at at least $315 million per year. Despite the fact that this represents a small portion of global drug sales, the trend is rising, with a fourfold increase from 2011 to mid-2017 and mid-2017 to 2020.

The COVID-19’s societal impact, which has resulted in an increase in inequality, poverty, and mental health concerns, particularly among already vulnerable groups, are factors that could encourage more people to use drugs.

The UNODC has suggested governments expand evidence-based prevention and treatment program, as well as monitoring and early warning mechanisms to help lower-income countries detect and counter new substances and use trends.

Related: Lack of COVID-19 vaccine in poorer countries marks global community’s failure; WHO