The extent of illicit drug use has remained stable in five years, but the estimated 15.5 million to 38.6 million problem drug users, including those with drug dependence and drug-use disorders, remain of a particular concern.
Globally, it is estimated that in 2010 between 153 million and 300 million people aged 15-64 years (3.4-6.6 per cent of the world’s population in that age group) had used an illicit substance at least once in the previous year.
This is according to the 2012 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, made available to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday.
This year’s World Drug Report provides an overview of recent trends and the drug situation in terms of production, trafficking, consumption and the consequences of illicit drug use in terms of treatment, drug related diseases and drug-related deaths.
It presents a long-term perspective on the characteristics and evolution of the drug problem and the main factors that shaped it.
It, however, indicates that some 10 to 13 per cent of drug users continue to be problem users with drug dependence and/or drug-use disorders, the prevalence of HIV (estimated at approximately 20 per cent), hepatitis C (46.7 per cent) and hepatitis B (14.6 per cent) among injecting drug users continues to add to the global burden of disease and last but not least, approximately one in every 100 deaths among adults is attributed to illicit drug use.
The report says globally, the two most widely used illicit drugs remain cannabis (global annual prevalence ranging from 2.6 to 5.0 per cent) and ATS, excluding “ecstasy”, (0.3-1.2 per cent) but data relating to their production are scarce.
It reiterates that with estimated annual prevalence of cannabis use in 2010 ranging from 2.6 to 5 per cent of the adult population (between 119 million and 224 million estimated users aged 15-64), cannabis remains the world’s most widely used illicit substance.
It says there may be shifts in cannabis use between the drug’s two principal forms, resin and herb, and there is even evidence of the increasing popularity of synthetic marijuana among young people in some regions, but in general annual prevalence of cannabis use remained stable in 2010.
The report notes that in terms of prevalence, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) (excluding “ecstasy”) remains second only to cannabis.
It says treatment for cocaine use is mainly associated with the Americas, while cannabis is the main drug causing treatment demand in Africa.
The report states that the demand for treatment relating to the use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) is most common in Asia.
It, however, says there is also growing evidence to suggest that criminal organizations involved in smuggling ATS, particularly methamphetamine, exploit West Africa in a similar way to cocaine traffickers.
It stresses that while illicit drug use among males in general greatly exceeds that among females, the non-medical use of tranquillizers and sedatives is high among females.
The report says deaths resulting from illicit drugs use, most of which are premature and preventable, are clearly the most extreme manifestation of the harm that can result from the illicit use of drugs.