Worldwide Statistics on Drug Addiction
Drug addiction is one of the most complex public health challenges facing the world today. The sheer variety of drugs on the market, from marijuana and cocaine to methamphetamine and heroin, means that the hurdles facing individuals and those involved in rehabilitation, as well as society at large, are huge. Drug addiction affects every part of society and is linked to long term health problems, causes great and lasting damage to friends and families and is often responsible for rising crime and abuse rates.
Treatment in this area doesn’t provide a one size fits all approach – what works for one person may not for another. Finding the right help at the right time is often the major hurdle that many addicts face and resources, even in Western countries, are often stretched to breaking point.
Across the world, drug abuse is on the rise:
- In 2012 the number of deaths thought to be due to drug related instances was around 183,000 with between 162 and 324 million people were using or had tried an illicit drug of one kind or another.
- Regular use of illicit drugs is seen in 16-39 million of the global population though this may be a gross underestimate due to poor reporting in areas and is largely derived from evidence of those seeking treatment for their addiction.
- The estimated number of people who inject drugs is thought to be around 12.7 million and this has huge consequences for the transmission of diseases like HIV, particularly in areas like Africa.
- Over half of people who use a particular drug such as cocaine also use a second drug including alcohol.
- More men than women use drugs such as opiates and marijuana but the difference narrows when it comes to pharmaceuticals or manufactured drugs like ecstasy.
- Dependence on illicit drugs has led to the potential loss of a staggering 16.4 million years of life due to premature deaths.
In the USA, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- Estimates suggest that 24 million people aged over 9 years old have tried an illicit drug in the last month.
- Between 2007 and 2013, use of marijuana increased from 14.5 million people to 19.8 million. Prescription drug use has also increased. Cocaine use is one of the few drugs to go down in the US.
- More than 50% of drug users start by experimenting with marijuana.
- Drug use and addiction is highest amongst 20 year olds but 50 to 60 year olds are also increasing their consumption.
In Europe, according to the World Health Organisation:
- Drug addiction in Eastern Europe has led to a large rise in the incidence of HIV through contaminated needles.
- In 2004, the number of deaths across Europe due to illicit drugs was 45,000.
- The UK has the highest use of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy in the EU compared to 26 other member states.
In Africa, detailed statistics are hampered by poor reporting:
- According to the UN, over 37,000 people in Africa die every year from illicit drug consumption or issues related directly to taking drugs.
- Consumption of illicit drugs seems to be rising on the continent with few border controls and problems such as unrest and conflict in certain areas.
Across the rest of the world drug addiction statistics vary:
- Japan has the lowest number of drug users in the world but this is on the increase. Drug use is particularly high amongst young men and women.
- Crime associated to drug usage almost doubled in China between 2006 and 2011, in part due to the growing economic success of the country. Drug use is also now spreading from the more prosperous provinces to poorer areas of China.
- Although there is difficulty in assessing drug usage in India, the number of people who have taken illicit drugs is thought to be around 3 million with cannabis and heroin the two most popular choices.
The World Drug Report
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Prevalence of Drug Use in Europe