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UNODC Report: Implications of the Increased Risk of Drug Spillover on a Pandemic

According to the 2021 World Drug Report, released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), about 275 million people worldwide used drugs in the past year, while more than 36 million people suffer from disorders related with drug use.

The report also notes that the harmfulness of cannabis has quadrupled in some parts of the world over the past 24 years, even though the percentage of adolescents who perceive the drug as harmful has decreased by 40%, despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with various types of harm, including to health, especially among regular users.

Lower perceptions of the risks of drug use have been associated with higher rates of drug use, and the findings of the UNODC World Drug Report 2021 highlight the need to bridge the gap between perception and reality in order to educate young people and preserve public opinion. health“Said UNODC Executive Director Gada Wali.

The theme for this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is: Drug Abuse: Talking About It Saves Lives“, Emphasizing the importance of strengthening the evidence base and raising public awareness so that the international community, governments, civil society, families and young people can make informed decisions, better target drug prevention and treatment efforts and address global drug problems. “

According to the report, the percentage of Δ9-THC – the main psychoactive component of cannabis – increased from about 6% to over 11% in Europe between 2002 and 2019, and from about 4% to 16% in the United States. Since 1995. and 2019, while the percentage of adolescents who find cannabis harmful fell 40% in the US and 25% in Europe.

In addition, most countries reported an increase in cannabis use during the pandemic. In surveys of health workers in 77 countries, 42% said cannabis use has increased. During the same period, there was an increase in non-medical drug use.

Drug use is on the rise, but evidence-based treatments are more affordable

Between 2010 and 2019, the number of people who use drugs increased by 22%, in part due to the growth in the global population. Current projections based only on demographic changes suggest that by 2030 the number of people who use drugs will increase by 11% globally and 40% in Africa due to the rapid growth of young and young populations.

→ Read also: The French spent over 4 billion euros on drugs

According to the latest global estimates, about 5.5% of the population aged 15 to 64 have used drugs at least once in the past year, and 36.3 million people, or 13 people, have used drugs.

% of the total number of people who use drugs have a drug use disorder.

Globally, it is estimated that more than 11 million people inject drugs, half of whom live with hepatitis C. Opioids continue to represent the largest burden of drug-related illness.

The two most common pharmaceutical opioids used to treat people with opioid use disorders, methadone and buprenorphine, have become increasingly available over the past two decades. The amount available for medical purposes has increased sixfold since 1999, from 557 million daily doses to 3,317 million in 2019, indicating that evidence-based pharmacological treatments are more affordable today than in the past.

Dark web

The drug markets on the darknet appeared just ten years ago, but today the largest of them have annual sales of at least $ 315 million. While this is only a small fraction of total drug sales, the trend is growing, having quadrupled between 2011 and mid-2017 and mid-2017 and 2020.

Rapid technological innovation, coupled with the flexibility and adaptability of those using new platforms to sell drugs and other substances, is likely to pave the way for a globalized marketplace in which all drugs are more readily available and available everywhere. According to the report, this could lead to accelerated changes in drug use patterns and have public health implications.

The drug market is bouncing and changing

A new report shows drug markets quickly resumed after an initial disruption at the start of the pandemic; an upsurge that provoked or accelerated certain dynamics of the illicit trafficking that previously existed in the world drug market. These include: an increasing supply of illicit drugs, an increase in the use of land and water routes for illicit trafficking, an increase in the use of private aircraft for drug trafficking, and an increase in drug trafficking. Use of non-contact methods of drug delivery to end users.

The resilience of drug markets during a pandemic has further demonstrated the ability of drug traffickers to quickly adapt to changing conditions and circumstances.

The report also notes that cocaine supply chains in Europe are diversifying, lowering prices and improving quality, thereby threatening Europe with further expansion of the cocaine market. This can increase the potential damage caused by this drug in the region.

The number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) entering the global market fell from 163 in 2013 to 71 in 2019. This change reflects trends in North America, Europe and Asia. The results show that national and international control systems have been successful in limiting the spread of NPS in high-income countries, where NPS first appeared a decade ago.

Drug risks, new developments caused by the pandemic

COVID-19 has spurred innovation and adaptation of drug prevention and treatment services through more flexible service delivery models. Many countries have introduced or expanded telemedicine services in response to the pandemic, which means that for addicts, health workers can now provide advice or initial assessments over the phone and use electronic systems to prescribe controlled substances.

While the impact of COVID-19 on drug problems is not yet fully understood, analysis shows that the pandemic has led to increased economic hardship that is likely to make illicit drug cultivation more attractive to people. The social impact of the pandemic, which has led to increased inequality, poverty and mental health problems, is particularly significant.

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