The Strategy


Over the past 150 years, humanity has experienced several opioid crises but none as devastating as the present one. The number of people worldwide who use opioids for non-medical purposes has nearly doubled over the past decade. In the same period, the prevalence of opioid use increased by 76 per cent, whereas the global population grew by 10 per cent. Opioids are a major concern in many countries because of the severe health consequences associated with their use. The use of opioids accounts for around two thirds of deaths attributed to drug use disorders worldwide and 70 per cent of the healthy years of life which are lost to disability and premature death.
To support countries to address the ongoing synthetic opioids crisis, mainly affecting North America with fentanyl and its analogues and parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East with tramadol, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched an integrated strategy in June 2018.


The UNODC Opioid Strategy is a five-pillar integrated, inter- agency response to the global opioid crisis. Led by UNODC, the Strategy integrates the unique expertise housed within the Office with complimentary specialized knowledge from across the UN system.


The UNODC Opioid Strategy coordinates inter-agency collaboration with key international partners such as the World Health Organization, International Narcotics Control Board, the World Customs Organization, Universal Postal Union, INTERPOL, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe as well as regional organizations such as the Organization of American States, the European Monitoring Centre for Drug Dependence and Addiction, African Union and the Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development.

The UNODC Opioid Strategy is supported by a comprehensive communications and advocacy plan to highlight global activities, successes and best practice in addressing the opioid crisis. This will raise public awareness of the progress of the Strategy and support the visibility of the multilateral response to the crisis and donor commitments and contributions.