02 / 08 / 2019
World Drug Report 2019

UNODC: 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders while only 1 in 7 people receive treatment.

Globaly, some 35 million people are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders and who require treatment services, according to the latest World Drug Report, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in June.

The Report estimates the number of opioid users at 53 million and that opioids are responsible for two thirds of the 585,000 people who died as a result of drug use in 2017. Globally, 11 million people injected drugs in 2017, of whom 1.4 million live with HIV and 5.6 million with hepatitis C.

In 2017, an estimated 271 million people, or 5,5 per cent of the global population aged 15-64, had used drugs in the previous year. While this is similar to the 2016 estimate, a longer-term view reveals that the number of people who use drugs is now 30 per cent higher than it was in 2009. Although that increase was in part due to a 10 per cent growth in the global population aged 15-64, data now shows a higher prevalence of the use of opioids in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America and the use of cannabis in North America, South America and Asia compared with 2009.

The most widely used drug globally continues to be cannabis, with an estimated 188 million people having used the drug in 2017.

In 2017, around 53.4 million people worldwide had used opioids in the previous year, 56 per cent more than the estimate for 2016. 

Prevention and treatment continue to fall short in many parts of the world, with only one in seven people with drug use disorders receiving treatment each year. This is particularly striking in prisons. This year’s Report provides in-depth analysis of drug use and its adverse health consequences in prison settings, which suggests that the prevalence of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C and active tuberculosis, and related risks, are disproportionately higher among prison populations than among the general population, in particular among those who inject drugs in prison.

Fifty-six countries reported that they provided opioid substitution therapy in at least one prison in 2017, while 46 countries reported not having such a treatment option in prison settings. Needle-syringe programmes are far less available in prison: 11 countries reported their availability in at least one prison, but such programmes were confirmed as absent in 83 countries.

The Report shows that effective treatment interventions based on scientific evidence and in line with international human rights obligations are not as available or accessible as they need to be, and national governments and the international community need to step up interventions in order to address this gap.