Trends with regard to the production and consumption of opiates witnessed some major shifts.
The limited available data suggest that opioid use (prescription opioids, heroin and opium) has gone up in parts of Asia (East and South-East Asia, as well as Central and West Asia) and Africa since 2009.
Use of opiates (heroin and opium), on the other hand, remains stable (around 16.5 million people, or 0.4 per cent of the population aged 15-64), although a high prevalence for opiate use has been reported from South-West and Central Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and North America.
In Europe specifically, there are indications that heroin use is declining, due to a number of factors, including an aging user population in treatment and increased interdiction of supply. Nevertheless, non-medical use of prescription opioids continues to be reported from some parts of Europe.
Production-wise, Afghanistan retained its position as the lead producer and cultivator of opium globally (74 per cent of global illicit opium production in 2012). While the global area under poppy cultivation rose by 15 per cent in 2012, driven largely by increases in Afghanistan and Myanmar, global opium production fell by almost 30 per cent, to less than 5,000 tons in 2012, mainly as a result of poor yields in Afghanistan. Mexico remained the largest producer of opium in the Americas.
It appears that opium production in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Myanmar may not be able to meet the demand posed by the increasing number of heroin users in some parts of Asia.
While seizures of morphine and heroin increased globally in 2011, declines were noted in specific regions and countries, including Turkey and Western and Central Europe.