The number of people battling drug use disorders has skyrocketed 45 percent over the past decade, according to a new UN report.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released its World Drug Report 2023. The report estimates that one in five people worldwide, or 39.5 million people, are battling a drug use disorder.
The number of people using drugs also increased to 296 million worldwide—a jump of 23 percent over the past decade.
About 60 million abuse opioids, 36 million people use amphetamines, another 22 million use cocaine, and 219 million use cannabis. Young people are the most vulnerable and more likely to battle substance use disorder. In Africa 70% of people receiving drug treatment are under the age of 35.
The UNODC report also shed light on the growing threat of fentanyl, particularly in the United States. In 2021 the majority of the 90,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in North America involved fentanyl.
“Fentanyl has drastically altered the opioid market in North America with dire consequences,” the report reads.
Worldwide cocaine supply and demand are also booming. The report found that in 2021 cocaine production hit a record high, along with global cocaine users, estimated at 22 million people.
“Although the global cocaine market continues to be concentrated in the Americas and in Western and Central Europe, in relative terms it appears that the fastest growth, albeit building on very low initial levels, is occurring in developing markets found in Africa, Asia and South-Eastern Europe,” the report reads.
The report details how drug use is not only affecting those who abuse substances, but their entire community and world.
“World drug-related challenges are hindering sustainable development goal progress across all areas, from peace and justice to health and human rights, and the environment and equality,” the report reads.
The UNODC report says that drug challenges are causing more conflict, economic slowdown and inflation. In the first six months of 2022, a record number of more than 100 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced.
Moreover, the report emphasized that the drug trade is benefiting extremist groups, which is another reason why law enforcement and lawmakers need to prioritize battling the ever-changing drug production and trafficking models.