UN Reports Drug Addiction on the Rise
The United Nations (UN) just released the newest edition of its annual report on world drug use. The World Drug Report 2016 combined data on drug use from around the world in order to identify trends and patterns.
It looked at stats that was gathered in 2014. The report found that nearly 250 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 used at least one drug in 2014.
That number is more or less in line with past numbers and has kept up with the general increase in world population. But when it comes to the number of people with serious drug addictions, the picture is a little different.
The UN reported that there are more than 29 million people with a serious drug use disorder. That’s 2 million more than in the last report. The report also found that 12 million people inject drugs. 1.6 million of those who inject drugs are living with HIV and 8 million are living with hepatitis C.
Experts who were involved with the report were especially concerned with opioids. Opioids are a class of drugs that include things like heroin, as well as a number of prescription painkillers. They are known for being highly addictive and can sometimes lead to deadly overdoses.
“Heroin continues to be the drug that kills the most people and this resurgence must be addressed urgently,” said Yury Fedotov – Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
He went on to explain that opioids “pose the highest potential harm and health consequences among major drugs.”
While opioids were the most dangerous drugs, cannabis was the most regularly used drug in the world. The report estimated that somewhere around 183 million people used cannabis in 2014. The relationship between cannabis and opioids is an interesting one. Many leaders and activists in the United States, for example, say that the country is in the middle of an opioid epidemic.
A study released earlier this year found that doctors in the U.S. write around 259 million prescriptions for opioids a year. As a result there are almost 2 million Americans currently abusing opioids. And somewhere around 16,000 people die every year from an opioid overdose. But cannabis could be a potential solution.
That same study found that the rate of people addicted to opioids is cut nearly in half in places where medical marijuana is legal.
In places where it’s not legal, roughly 5.4% of people with opioid prescriptions become addicted. But in places where medical cannabis is allowed, only 2.8% of people with prescriptions become addicted. Combining all this data creates an interesting picture.
If the UN cites opioids as the most dangerous drug currently on the global scene, and other studies have found that cannabis might help reduce opioid addictions, it could be another strong point in favor of moving toward legalization.