About 275 million people worldwide, which is roughly 5.6 per cent of the global population aged 15-64 years, used drugs at least once during 2016. Some 31 million of people who use drugs suffer from drug use disorders, meaning that their drug use is harmful to the point where they may need treatment. Initial estimations suggest that, globally, 13.8 million young people aged 15-16 years used cannabis in the past year, equivalent to a rate of 5.6 per cent.
Roughly 450,000 people died as a result of drug use in 2015, according to WHO. Of those deaths, 167,750 were directly associated with drug use disorders (mainly overdoses). The rest were indirectly attributable to drug use and included deaths related to HIV and hepatitis C acquired through unsafe injecting practices.
Opioids continued to cause the most harm, accounting for 76 per cent of deaths where drug use disorders were implicated. PWID - some 10.6 million worldwide in 2016 - endure the greatest health risks. More than half of them live with hepatitis C, and one in eight live with HIV.
The headline figures for drug users have changed little in recent years, but this stability masks the striking ongoing changes in drug markets. Drugs such as heroin and cocaine that have been available for a long time increasingly coexist with NPS and there has been an increase in the non-medical use of prescription drugs (either diverted from licit channels or illicitly manufactured).The use of substances of unclear origin supplied through illicit channels that are sold as purported medicines but are destined for non-medical use is also on the increase. The range of substances and combinations available to users has never been wider.  [Read More...]

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