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26.9 crore people used drugs in 2018: UNODC World Drug Report

Representational Image | Seizures of amphetamines across the world quadrupled between 2009 and 2018.

Representational Image | Seizures of amphetamines across the world quadrupled between 2009 and 2018.  

Production of heroin and cocaine remains among the highest levels recorded in modern times.

 

About 26.9 crore people used drugs in 2018, which was 30% more than the 2009 figure, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users, according to the latest United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report.

Compared with earlier estimates from a survey carried out in 2004, overall opioid use in India is estimated to have increased fivefold.

Seizures quadrupled

Seizures of amphetamines across the world quadrupled between 2009 and 2018.

 

The stimulant scene is dominated by cocaine and methamphetamine, and use of both the substances is rising in their main markets. Production of heroin and cocaine remains among the highest levels recorded in modern times.

While about 19 million people used cocaine in 2018, fuelled by the drug’s popularity in North America and Western Europe, close to 27 million people used amphetamines the same year, the latter being the most used amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in Southeast Asia, it said.

“Use of methamphetamine in these two subregions has been expanding for two decades, according to most available indicators. Cocaine and methamphetamine can coexist in some markets by acting as substitutes for each other, so that use of one drug rises when the other goes down, or by feeding the same market with parallel increases and declines,” the report said.

Expanding markets

A number of indicators suggest that the global market of ATS, particularly meth, is expanding. “Quantities of seized methamphetamine...reached a new record high, at 228 tonne-equivalents, in 2018,” according to the report.

Observing that rapid market changes were being noticed, the report said synthetics were replacing opiates in Central Asia and the Russian Federation. While the amount of opiates intercepted in Russia fell by roughly 80% from 2008 to 2018, evidence suggested that meth and various cathinones were now widely available there.

 

Crystalline meth market has grown in Afghanistan and Iraq, emerging as a main drug apart from captagon and tramadol. In Afghanistan, meth seizures have steadily risen since 2014, when its manufacturing seems to have started. The amount seized in the first six months of 2019 — 657 kg — signalled a huge leap over the previous year.

“The large seizures effected in other countries of methamphetamine thought to originate in Afghanistan also suggest that production in that country is rising fast,” the report said.

‘Designer chemicals’

Although precursor control improved globally, the study found that traffickers and manufacturers were using “designer chemicals” as an alternative to synthesise amphetamine, meth and ecstasy.

The report expressed concern about fewer countries taking part in joint drug operations, apparently due to budgetary problems following the 2008 financial crisis, other challenges with international cooperation, including a lack of agreements to enable operational cooperation, and language problems.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 5:13:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/269-crore-people-used-drugs-in-2018-unodc-world-drug-report/article31934545.ece

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