Health and Development Challenges

Globally, the UNODC World Drug Report 2011 estimates that between 149 and 272 million people, or 3.3% to 6.1% of the population aged 15-64, used illicit substances at least once in the previous year. About half that number are estimated to have been current drug users, that is, having used illicit drugs at least once during the past month prior to the date of assessment. While the total number of illicit drug users has increased since the late 1990s, the prevalence rates have remained largely stable, as has the number of problem drug users,1 which is estimated at between 15 and 39 million.

UNODC policy calls for progress in three key areas:

  • to put public health back at centre of drug control efforts, balancing the way funds are spent to ensure that demand and the adverse health and social consequences of drug use are reduced;
  • to place drug control in the larger context of crime prevention; and
  • to uphold human rights and human dignity.