It is estimated that a total of 246 million people, or 1 out of 20 people between the ages of 15 and 64 years, used an illicit drug in 2013. That represents an increase of 3 million over the previous year but, because of the increase in the global population, illicit drug use has in fact remained stable.
The magnitude of the world drug problem becomes
more apparent when considering that more than 1 out of 10 drug users is a problem drug user, suffering from drug use disorders or drug dependence. In other words, some 27 million people, or almost the entire population of a country the size of Malaysia, are problem drug users. Almost half (12.19 million) of those problem drug users inject drugs, and an estimated 1.65 million of those who inject drugs were living with HIV in 2013.
This places a heavy burden on public health systems in terms of the prevention, treatment and care of drug use disorders and their health consequences. Only one out of every six problem drug users in the world has access to treatment, as many countries have a large shortfall in the provision of services. The annual number of drug-related deaths (estimated at 187,100 in 2013) has remained relatively unchanged. An unacceptable number of drug users continue to lose their lives prematurely, often as a result of overdose, even though overdose-related deaths are preventable.