Health

Young people often talk about the "highs" induced by illicit drugs but may not be aware of the many "lows". Illicit drug use is a concern because it poses a threat to health.

Negative effects vary depending on the type of drug consumed, the doses taken and the frequency of use. All illicit drugs have immediate physical effects, but they can also severely hinder psychological and emotional development.

Leading a healthy lifestyle requires making choices that are respectful of body and mind. To make healthy choices, people - particularly the young - need guidance from role models and need to get the right facts about drug use. The international campaign provides young people and others with tools to inform themselves about the health risks associated with illicit drug use.

UNODC and its campaign only focus on drugs under international control, as specified in the three multilateral treaties that form the backbone of the international drug control system. These illicit drugs include amphetamine-type stimulants, coca/cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates and sedative hypnotics.

Around 200 million people take drugs at least once a year. Of these, 25 million are regarded as drug dependent. Every year 200,000 people die from drug-related illnesses.

Young people are more susceptible to drug use. Prevalence of drug use among young people is more than twice as high as drug use among the general population; three times as high in the case of cannabis. Much more needs to be done to provide young people with the skills, information and opportunities to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Fact sheets

Parents, teachers and young people are encouraged to get the facts about drugs.

Related stories and publications

Building family skills to prevent drug use (2009 publication)

Ketamine sweeps the rave scene (2008)

Responding to drug use and HIV in Iran (2008)

UN report focuses on spread of HIV through drug injection (2008)

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