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200 Million Use Cocaine, Heroin or Other Illegal Drugs

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Worldwide there are approximately 200 million users of (illegal) drugs. That is one in twenty people between 15 and 64, according to a study published in The Lancet today.

Cannabis appeared to be the most popular drug, with 125 to 203 million users worldwide. The number of users of amphetamines (including speed) is estimated at 14 to 56 million, cocaine users totalled 14 to 21 million and opiates users (including heroin and morphine) 12 to 21 million. The estimates are based on data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), from national surveys and peer-reviewed studies into the impact of drug use.

In addition, the results show that drug use is more prevalent in rich economies and in drug-producing regions of poor countries and is often a major health burden. According to the researchers, the health effects of cannabis use are dependence and probably mental disorders, including psychoses, but contribute little to mortality. In contrast, illegal oppioid use, especially when injected, is a major cause of mortality and includes the specific threats of catching HIV and hepatitis by sharing needles.

The use of Ecstasy, LSD, anabolicsteroids and non-medical use of prescription drugs were not included in this study.

The latest statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO) show that 250.000 deaths can be attributed to the use of drugs in 2004, compared with 2.25 million deaths due to alcohol and 5.1 million deaths due to tabacco.

Source: De Volkskrant

Degenhardt, L., & Hall, W. (2012). Extent of illicit drug use and dependence, and their contribution to the global burden of disease The Lancet, 379 (9810), 55-70 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61138-0

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