COVID pandemic fuelling major increase in drug use worldwide: UN report
UN News 24 June 2021
According to UNODC’s World Drug Report 2021, cannabis potency has quadrupled in some parts of the world over the last two decades, while the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent.
This perception gap prevails despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, especially among regular long-term users. Moreover, most countries have reported a rise in the use of cannabis during the pandemic.
“Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use, and the findings of UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report highlight the need to close the gap between perception and reality to educate young people and safeguard public health,” said UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly.
The COVID-19 crisis has pushed more than 100 million people into extreme poverty, and has greatly exacerbated unemployment and inequalities, as the world lost 255 million jobs in 2020.
Mental health conditions are also on the rise worldwide. These factors have the potential to spur a rise in drug use disorders.
Moreover, changes have already been observed in drug use patterns during the pandemic, including increases in the use of cannabis and the non-medical use of pharmaceutical sedatives.
Underlying socioeconomic stressors have also likely accelerated demand for these drugs.
- Between 2010-2019 the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent, owing in part to increase in the global population.
- Roughly 200 million people used cannabis in 2019 representing 4 per cent of the global population.
- The number of cannabis users has increased by nearly 18 per cent over the past decade.
- An estimated 20 million people used cocaine in 2019, corresponding to 0.4 per cent of the global population.
- Roughly 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses in the United States in 2019, more than double the 2010 figure.
- Fentanyl and its analogues now are involved in most of the deaths..
- The number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) found at global level has been stabilizing in recent years at slightly more than 500 substances (541 in 2019) while the actual number of NPS identified for the first time at global level declined from 213 to 71 between 2013 and 2019.
READ MORE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/06/1094672