The non-medical use of prescription drugs accounts for 76 per cent of deaths worldwide

World Drug Report 2018: opioid crisis, prescription drug abuse expands; cocaine and opium hit record highs

According to the latest World Drug Report, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the non-medical use of prescription drugs is causing the most harm and accounting for 76 per cent of deaths.

The report shows that North America has a problem with Fentanyl and its analogues while tramadol an opioid used to treat pain has become a growing concern in parts of Africa and Asia.

Traffickers manufacture them illicitly and promote them in illegal markets causing considerable harm to health.

The global seizure of pharmaceutical opioids in 2016 was 87 tons, roughly the same as the quantities of heroin seized that year. Seizures of pharmaceutical opioids mainly tramadol in West and Central Africa, and North Africa accounted for 87 per cent of the global total in 2016.

Cocaine manufacture in 2016 hit a record at 1,410 tonnes produced worldwide, most from Colombia. The report suggests drug consumption and trafficking are on the rise in Africa and Asia.

From 2016-2017, global opium production jumped by 65 per cent to 10,500 tons, the highest estimate recorded by UNODC since it started monitoring global opium production at the start of the twenty-first century.

“The findings of this year’s World Drug Report show that drug markets are expanding, with cocaine and opium production hitting absolute record highs, presenting multiple challenges on multiple fronts,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. He highlighted that “UNODC is committed to working with countries to seek balanced, integrated solutions to drug challenges and achieve progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“The World Drug Report represents a key pillar of our support, along with assistance to translate international obligations into action and capacity building on the ground to enable effective responses, and protect the health and welfare of humankind,” Mr. Fedotov said.

Cannabis was the most widely consumed drug in 2016, with 192 million people using it at least once during the previous year. The global number of cannabis users continues to rise and appears to have increased by roughly 16 per cent in the decade to 2016, reflecting a similar increase in the world population.

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