Two-Thirds Of Global Drug-Related Deaths Were From Opioid Use

By Victoria Kim 07/01/19

The 2019 World Drug Report highlighted the devastating global reach of the addiction epidemic.

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Drug use continues to rise—not only in the United States, where fentanyl and painkillers have devastated many lives, but in the Middle East, Africa and India.

The numbers are provided in the 2019 World Drug Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The report detailed the extent of the drug problem in the United States and Canada. Opioid drugs such as fentanyl, heroin and prescription painkillers contributed the most to widespread substance use disorder (addiction) and death. In 2017, more than 47,000 people in the U.S. and 4,000 Canadians died from opioid overdose, the report showed.

“Drug overdoses have really reached epidemic proportions in North America,” said UN research chief Angela Me.

Around 271 Million People Used Drugs In 2017

Globally, drugs are a problem as well. An estimated 271 million people used drugs in 2017—30% more people than in 2009. The same year, 585,000 people died from drug use—with opioid drugs accounting for two-thirds of global drug deaths.

And while around 35 million people live with drug use disorder, not enough people receive help for it. “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,” according to the UN.

The report found a lack of treatment options across the world, and urged world leaders to do better. “Effective treatment interventions based on scientific evidence and in line with international human rights obligations are not as accessible as they need to be, and national governments and the international community need to step up interventions in order to address this gap,” according to a statement by the UN.

It was noted that the overall increase in drug use and people with substance use disorder was partly due to improved reporting in India and Nigeria, two of the most populous nations.

Cannabis Is The Most Widely Used Drug In The World

Other findings of the World Drug Report included the fact that cannabis is still the most widely used drug in the world with an estimated 188 million people having used it in 2017. And global cocaine manufacturing hit a record high in 2017 with 1,976 tons counted—a 25% increase over the previous year.

“The findings of this year’s World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and demand,” said Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr