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

The World Drug Report provides a wealth of information and analysis on drug use demand and related issues.


Booklet 1 provides a summary of the key findings and highlighting their policy implications. It also provides a summary of the impact of COVID-19 on drug markets.

In the 2020 edition of the Report, Booklet 2, 4 and 6 include analysis of drug use and relate issues.

Booklet 2 focuses on drug demand and contains a global overview of the extent of and trends in drug use, including drug use disorders, and its health consequences.

Booklet 4 addresses a number of cross-cutting issues, including the macrodynamics that are driving the expansion and increasing complexity of the drug markets, and describes some of the rapidly evolving drug-related concerns: the latest, multifaceted global opioid crisis; rapid market changes; the market for new psychoactive substances; and developments in jurisdictions that have measures allowing the non-medical use of cannabis.

Finally, booklet 6 addresses a number of other drug policy issues that all form part of the international debate on the drug problem but on which in-depth evidence is scarce, including access to controlled medicines.

The statistical annex of the Report provides data on drug use and health consequences.


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

Drug use in Pakistan (ongoing)

High risk drug use in Kazakhstan (ongoing)

High risk drug use in Uzbekistan (ongoing)

Drug use in Guatemala (ongoing)

School survey on drug use in Senegal 2020 (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 (forthcoming)

Study on substance use and health among youth in Afghanistan 2018 (forthcoming)

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 Survey

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)