Research on drug use

UNODC monitors global and regional developments in the demand for drugs, including the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs, through various channels and activities, including regular reporting from Member States, household surveys and targeted studies of high-risk drug users and vulnerable population groups.

Information from these sources is used to produce datasets but also analysed holistically to provide an overall picture of the many challenges the world faces in terms of drug use and health consequences, covering aspects such as trends in extent and patterns of drug use, risk behaviours, drug related morbidity and mortality and coverage of drug treatment for those suffering from drug use disorders.


World drug report

Consisting of five separate booklets, the World Drug Report 2022 provides an in-depth analysis of global drug markets and examines the nexus between drugs and the environment within the bigger picture of the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change and environmental sustainability.

Booklet 1 summarizes the four subsequent booklets by reviewing their key findings and highlighting policy implications based on their conclusions.

Booklet 2 provides an overview of the global demand for and supply of drugs, including an analysis of the relationship between illicit drug economies and situations of conflict and weak rule of law.

Booklet 3 reviews the latest trends in the global markets for opioids and cannabis at the global and regional levels, and includes a discussion of the potential impact of changes in opium poppy cultivation and opium production in Afghanistan, and an analysis of early indications of the impact of cannabis legalization on public health, public safety, market dynamics and criminal justice responses in selected jurisdictions.

Booklet 4 presents the latest trends in and estimates of the markets for various stimulants – cocaine, amphetamines and “ecstasy” – and new psychoactive substances, both at the global level and in the most affected subregions, including an analysis of different coca bush eradication strategies and a focus on the expansion of the methamphetamine market in South-West Asia.

Booklet 5 delves into the nexus between drugs and the environment, providing a comprehensive overview of the current state of research into the direct and indirect effects of illicit drug crop cultivation and drug manufacture, as well as drug policy responses on the environment.


In addition to the annual review of latest trends on drug use and health consequences and focused analyses on drug demand generated for the World Drug Report, drug use is addressed in topical research on drug markets, including that on opiates from Afghanistan and that on cocaine.

National surveys on drug use supported by UNODC

Study on substance use and health among youth in Afghanistan 2018 (April 2021)
Drug situation in Afghanistan 2021 - Latest findings and emerging threats
Drug use in Pakistan 2021 (ongoing)
High risk drug use in Kazakhstan 2021 (ongoing)
High risk drug use in Uzbekistan 2021 (ongoing)
Drug use in Guatemala 2021 (ongoing)
School survey on drug use in Senegal 2020 (forthcoming)
Study on substance use and health among youth in Afghanistan 2018 (forthcoming)
Rapport sur l'enquête sur la consommation de substances et la santé chez les élèves des écoles secondaires en Côte d'Ivoire 2019
Youth survey on drug use and health in Kazakhstan 2018
Drug use in Nigeria 2018
Estimating the extent of illicit drug use in Palestine 2017
Youth substance use in Tajikistan 2016
National study on problematic drug users (size estimation and patterns of drug abuse) Albania 2014-2015
Drug use in Pakistan 2013
Drug use in Afghanistan 2009
Problem drug use in Pakistan: results from the year 2006 national assessment


UNODC also supports Member States in developing capacity to design and implement methodologically sound surveys and assessments of drug use, as well as develop and implement integrated drug information systems and establishments of national drug observatories

Resources on drug use epidemiology

Developing an Integrated Drug Information System
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian

Estimating prevalence: Indirect methods for estimating the size of the drug problem Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian

Conducting school survey on drug abuse
, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian

Focus Assessment Studies: A qualitative approach to data collection
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian

Ethical challenges in drug epidemiology: issues, principles and guidelines
, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian

Guidance for the measurement of drug treatment data
, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian

Besides its activities on drug use, UNODC research on drug markets also encompasses activities to monitor and analyse drug supply, including activities to assess and monitor drug cultivation, production and manufacture  and research on drug trafficking flows, routes and actors at national, regional and international levels.


UNODC regularly updates global statistical series on drugs, including on drug trafficking (drug seizures, drug prices, drug purity, drug-related arrests). These data are available at dataUNODC

Following an extensive review of the current data collection instrument on drugs, the Annual Report Questionnaire, the UNODC, in consultation with experts from the Member States and international organisations, is preparing a revised Annual Report Questionnaire, which will be implemented from 2021.

28-30 August 2019Second Expert Working Group on improving drug statistics and strengthening the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ)

29-31 January 2018Expert Working Group on Improving Drug Statistics and Strengthening the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ)