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UNODC Report Finds Increases in Nonmedical Prescription Drug Use and New Psychoactive Substances

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2012 World Drug Report concludes that subtle changes in world drug markets, which have been otherwise stable for the past 5 years, are “proof of the resilience and adaptability of illicit drug suppliers and users.” The report, based on data collected in 2010, estimates that between 153 million and 300 million people age 15–64 used illicit drugs at least once in the past year and attributes 1 in every 100 adult deaths annually to illicit drug use (that figure rises to 1 in 20 for North America and Oceania). Drug use, especially injection drug use, contributes significantly to the global burden of disease: 20 percent of injection drug users (IDUs) have HIV; 46.7 percent of IDUs have hepatitis C; and 14.6 percent of IDUs have hepatitis B. Nonmedical use of prescription drugs continues to surge and is increasingly reported in polydrug use combined with illicit substances. New and emerging psychoactive substances were reported in numerous countries in all regions, but especially in Europe, North America, and Oceania. The full report is available on the UNODC website.

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This page was last updated September 2012

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