UN Drug Report Shows Drug Use Increasing with Economic Decay

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, released its World Drug Report for 2014, mostly covering drug production and use through 2012. Some relevant results from the Executive Summary:

Both the gross number and the percentage of drug users, including opiates, cocaine, cannabis, and amphetamines, continued to increase in 2012, continuing the increase that began in 2008, reaching an estimated 243 million and 5.2% of the population, with an estimated drug death total of 183,000 in 2012.

See LPAC’s “Why You Don’t Have the Right To Do Drugs”

The incidence of HIV from drug use is estimated at 1.7 million, with the problem most acute in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, where the rate of injecting drug use is 4.6 times higher than the global average. More than half of the people who inject drugs are estimated to be living with hepatitis C.

The report notes that increases in drug usage “appeared in parallel to the financial crisis,” especially in Europe.

Afghanistan, which has the world’s largest opium poppy cultivation, saw an increase in the area under cultivation of a massive 36%, from 154,000 hectares in 2012 to 209,000 hectares (807 square miles) in 2013. It also expanded in Myanmar but at a slower pace. In 2013, the estimated global production of heroin rebounded to the levels seen in 2008 and 2011, with the global area of illicit opium cultivation in 2013 reaching 296,720 hectares (1,146 square miles) — the largest area since 1998, when estimates became available.

In the US, the increased availability of pure heroin at low prices has resulted in a large switch to pure heroin from synthetic opioids.

The UN reports that overall global availability of cocaine has fallen. The estimated net area under coca bush cultivation as of 31 December 2012 was the lowest since the beginning of available estimates in 1990: 133,700 hectares, a decline of 14 percent from the estimate for 2011 — almost all in South America.

On the legalization of pot in parts of the US and South America, the report says, “Based on existing research, it can be argued that with declining risk perception and increased availability, use and youth initiation may increase.”

Manufacture of methamphetamine in North America expanded once again, with a large increase in the number of methamphetamine laboratories reported dismantled in the United States and Mexico. There is a proliferation of new psychoactive substances — 348 such substances in December 2013, up from 251 in July 2012, nearly half not under any legal controls.

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