UN declares quarter of a billion people worldwide use drugs


According to the UN's World Drug Report, around 5 percent of the world's adult population used drugs at least once in 2015.

About a quarter of a billion people globally used drugs in 2015, including 29.5 million people who suffer from drug use disorders such as dependence, the UN's World Drug Report said on Thursday.

According to the latest World Drug Report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 5 percent of the world's adult population used drugs at least once in 2015, adding, "Opioids were the most harmful drug type and accounted for 70 percent of the negative health impact associated with drug use disorders worldwide."

It stated, "Hepatitis C is causing the greatest harm among the estimated 12 million people who inject drugs worldwide. Out of this number, one in eight (1.6 million) is living with HIV and more than half (6.1 million) are living with hepatitis C, while around 1.3 million are suffering from both hepatitis C and HIV."

With about 40 percent of global heroin and morphine seizures in 2015 being made in countries along the Balkan route, which appears to remain the world's principal opiate trafficking route, the report said.

"While overall quantities seized on the Balkan route declined in 2015, an alternative branch of the route, through the Caucasus countries, appears to have been graining in importance in recent years. That route circumvents Turkey, where the recent increase in flows of refugees heading towards countries in the European Union may have pushed traffickers to seek other options," the report said.

The report said the scale of the harm caused by drug abuse is underlined by the estimated 28 million years of healthy life lost worldwide in 2015 as a result of premature death and disability caused by drugs.

One in six persons with drug use disorders get treatment each year, the report said.

The U.S. accounts for some one-quarter of drug-related deaths worldwide, including overdose deaths, which continue to rise, the report estimated.

"Mostly driven by opioids, overdose deaths in the U.S. more than tripled during the period 1999-2015, from 16,849 to 52,404 annually, and increased by 11.4 percent in the past year alone, to reach the highest level ever recorded," the report said.

"Far more people die from the misuse of opioids in the U.S. each year than from road traffic accidents or violence," the report said.

The UNODC estimates that there were 190,900 drug-related deaths in 2015.

According to the report, globally, 183 million people used cannabis, 35 million people used opioids, 18 million people used opiates, and 17 million people used cocaine in 2015.

In 2016, the global area under opium poppy cultivation grew 8 percent over the previous year to 304,800 hectares, and global production of opiates rose 34 percent to 6,380 tons, the report said.

Seizures of opiates fell 11 percent to 587 tons in 2015, seizures of heroin dropped 5 percent to 80 tons, and seizures of morphine decreased 54 percent to 9.6 tons, the report said.

"Europol identified some 5,000 international organized crime groups operating in countries of the European Union in 2017 and estimated that more than a third were involved in drug trafficking," the report said.

About not including the drug trafficking activities of the internationally recognized terrorist group PKK in the report, Chloe Carpentier, the UNODC's Drug Research Section chief, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday: "For the PKK, we only had evidence coming from the government of Turkey, and we did not include it because we thought it would be better to have evidence from different sources and perhaps it would be more reliable."

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU. It has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, during which more than 40,000 people have been killed. The PKK is also involved in illicit drug production, manufacture, and trafficking.

Since the group resumed its armed campaign in July 2015, more than 1,200 people, including security personnel and civilians, have lost their lives.

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