Every year the United Nations publishes the World Drug Report as a means of documenting developments, trends and factors in the global drug market and drug use patterns. Because of the changing patterns of drug consumption and usage, the information detailed in the report is used by nations to prepare for challenges and risks associated with the current use and abuse of drugs. Risks may include the rise of drug dependency in some countries, drug trafficking and production. All of these risks place an increased burden on communities, families and countries, in order to deal with the repercussions.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that 210 million people worldwide used drugs in 2010 and almost 200,000 die as a result of their drug use. Drug use affects individuals who use, their families, co-workers, friends and their community. Drugs contribute to crime rates including violence and other social issues. Using drugs also effects the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. The UNODC does stress that drug addiction is not the crime but a disease that requires appropriate medical, social and psychological care.
The UNODC estimates that the number of drug users has remained stable at around 5 per cent of the global population. Problem drug users, or those who have chronic drug problems, remain at less than 1 per cent of the population, but this still accounts for over 15 million people worldwide. Cannabis remains the number one drug used followed my amphetamines and amphetamine-type substances (methamphetamine, ecstasy, etc.). Heroin and cocaine follow closely behind amphetamines in popularity, though these two substances offer the most damaging and high risk due to the intravenous method of consumption.
Opium production increased 80 per cent between 1998 and 2009 across the world. This is a major problem all over world as opium dependent individuals place themselves and their families and friends at risk. The Report did however show that in 2010, global production did decrease. This was largely due to a significant plant disease issue that affected opium poppies in Afghanistan.
The most severe and long-term consequence of opium use, particularly in respect to heroin, is the spread of infectious diseases. The Report states that nearly 80 per cent of intravenous drug users in Myanmar, Indonesia and Hong Kong have been exposed to hepatitis C.
Cannabis is the most widely used drug type world wide according to the UNODC World Drug Report. Reportedly, nearly 5 per cent of the population has used cannabis in the past year. Cannabis is the most commonly used, produced and seized drug worldwide.
Studies have shown that long term, chronic use of cannabis may increase the risk of psychotic disorders. Cannabinoids have also been found to cause cognitive defects, affect short-term and mid-term memory, decision-making and attention levels.
The UNODC report states that cocaine use has continued to decline across the United States, but has doubled in the European Market. Previously, Columbia was known as the key producer of cocaine in the world, but Peru is fast becoming the top producer. This obviously represents successful policies in Columbia that have quelled the production and trafficking of the drug, but it is just as obvious that demand is still around for the drug.
Cocaine is the second most problematic drug worldwide in terms of negative health consequences, after heroin. It is however, the most problematic in terms of trafficking and drug-related violence. The majority of cocaine users–over 60 per cent–take the drug in conjunction with other substances. This raises global concerns about the risk of overdose and chronic health damage.
The report discusses the rise of new and emerging drugs that have been developed in the last year. It is believed that these drugs have been developed as a result of decreasing amounts of MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine. These drugs which are known as Designer Drugs have been produced in massive amounts and include substances like mephedrone and piperazine which mimic amphetamines and spice which is a synthetic cannabinoids. The presence of these new drugs creates issues as they are untested and unknown substances which may cause severe negative health reactions.
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