Recreational Drug Use Surges Worldwide, UN Study Reports

By July 2, 2019 Recent News

Yahoo News 30 June 2019 
Some 271 million people globally, or more than one in 20 of the population aged 15 to 64, used recreational drugs in 2017, according to newly released data from the United Nations World Drug Report. That’s a 30% increase from 2009.

The use of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and prescription stimulants are at post-recession highs in the U.S., the study said. And although the use of prescription opioids has dipped recently, the number of overdoses has increased. More than 47,000 deaths were recorded there in 2017, many of them attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

The most popular drug globally continues to be cannabis, with an estimated 188 million people having used it in 2017, according to the study. Cannabis usage is most prevalent in North America, where there are an estimated 56.6 million users, followed by Asia with 54.2 million.

One-third of Israeli men in the 15-to-64 age bracket and 28.5% of those in Jamaica used cannabis at a greater frequency than all other countries measured, the study said. American men followed at 21.4% while Canadians and New Zealanders rounded out the top five with 19.1% and 18.6%, respectively, according to the latest data available.

The legalization of cannabis in some North American jurisdictions has contributed to a decline in seizures, which have slumped 77% since 2010, the study said.

Additional Comment from SAM 
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its annual World Drug Report this week. The report takes a look at global drug use and specifically called out the United States and states such as Colorado for lax marijuana polices that are driving increased use and negative health harms. The report is a global wake up call. As I have long said, effective drug policy is one that discourages use and creates means for people to get help with substance use disorders. Of course, with a handful of states legalizing marijuana and the marijuana industry churning out stronger, more addictive pot, we are accomplishing exactly the opposite.

The report found that youth use in the US has been on an upward trajectory since 2015, coinciding with the beginning of organized efforts to legalize commercial sales of marijuana at the state level. It also pointed out that “the ongoing policy debate and its coverage in the media appear to have impacted risk perceptions of harm caused by cannabis use, especially among young people.”

Let me be clear: the efforts to legalize drugs – and I say drugs because we are now seeing efforts to legalize mushrooms and even heroin – and the texture of our current discourse, is leading our young people to believe drugs such as marijuana are safe and state-approved. The fact is, it is the overwhelming scientific consensus that marijuana use among young people can lead to addiction, problems learning, a permanent loss of IQ points, memory loss, and can even lead to the development of severe mental health issues such as psychosis.