Global Drug Use at 200 Million People. Wealthiest Countries, Highest Number of Users
According to a report in The Lancet by Australian researchers, the statistics record the highest numbers to date, specifically in 2009 and they are probably an underestimation. To what do these numbers relate? Globally, over 149 to 271 million individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 used an illegal drug at least once. This averages to 1 in 20 people using marijuana, amphetamines (including crystal meth) cocaine and opioids for the year 2009.
With the study researchers had hoped to note the impact of health effects on problem drug users. However, the estimates which they thought would enlighten them may have skewed their gauging the extent of the problem for two reasons. Survey research is inaccurate; individuals often are not completely honest in their responses and could be either exaggerating or limiting the amount of their illicit drug use. Secondly, the data from the poorest countries is absent or limited.
So though the numbers are an approximation at best, the results are telling. After they examined the studies, researchers guesstimated that between 125 and at most 203 million people use marijuana and hashish. North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand harbor the highest number of users. In North America alone, 11 percent of the population between 15 and 64 used marijuana in 2009.
Globally, categorizing the same age groups, between 14 and 56 million people used amphetamines, including speed and meth and 21 million people used cocaine with the greatest number of users residing in North America. Worldwide, opioid use, including heroin, had an estimated 12 million to 21 million users. The greatest number of users were in the Near and Middle East. There up to 1.4% of the population tried or used the drugs in 2009. Developed countries saw the widest use of all four drug classes.
The report in The Lancet faults the inconclusive and incomplete data creating an inability to effectively determine the issues and impact of illicit drug use and its attendant problems.The report also states, “This need is especially urgent in high-income countries with substantial rates of illicit drug use and in low-income and middle-income countries close to illicit drug production areas.”Continued on the next page