Worldwide drug use has reached record levels
World cocaine production reached a peak of approximately 1,410 tons in 2017; the main producer is Colombia. Also for the two – year period, 2016-2017, world opium production increased by 65% and reached a record level of 10,500 tons. In 2017, cannabis (marijuana) became the most common drug: between 2007 and 2017, the number of people using cannabis increased by 16%, corresponding to the increase in the world population over the same period.
Heroin and cocaine, long established in the market, are now “sharing” the market with new psychoactive substances and prescription drugs. The non-medical use of prescription drugs poses a serious threat to the health of the world’s population.
For example, in 2017, 87 tons of pharmaceutical opioids were seized worldwide, which is roughly equal to the amount of heroin seized in the same year. The number of deaths caused by taking opioids in 2018 accounted for 76% of all deaths associated with taking drugs.
The situation is exacerbated by the growing flow of pharmaceuticals of dubious origin, supplied for non-medical use. Fentanyl (an opioid drug used to relieve pain syndromes of medium and strong intensity) and its analogues remain a problem in North America.
Vulnerability of different age groups
The risk of drug use and the associated negative effects are highest among adolescents. According to the data, the most dangerous periods of the beginning of the use of narcotic substances are average (12-14) and late (14-17) adolescence, and subsequently the level of consumption reaches a peak between 19-25 years.
Adolescents who use drugs can be attributed to two opposite groups: children and adolescents from wealthy families who use the so-called “club drugs” for fun, and children and adolescents from disadvantaged families who use volatile substances in order to “escape” from problems.
Among drug users in older age groups, people with physical and mental health problems are more likely to be found.
Between 2000 and 2015, the number of deaths directly attributable to drug use increased by 60% worldwide. In 2000, the number of deaths in the age group of people over 50 years was 27%, by 2015 – 39%.
Approximately three quarters of the deaths in the 50+ age group are due to opioid use.
The study shows that the majority of drug addicts are men, while women are distinguished by specific forms of drug use (tranquilizers, sleeping pills). In typical cases, women start using drugs later than men, but statistics show that after starting psychoactive substances, women begin to increase the dosage of alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and opioids much faster, are more likely to develop addiction and drug-related disorders.
– UN News, June 26, 2018