At the global level, the world drug problem has evolved over the past 10 years, and especially since the Covid pandemic. It has become more difficult to control by physical (repressive) means; more integrated with other social dislocations (corruption, money laundering, insurgency); supply has diversified away from traditional production centres, mostly underdeveloped botanical centres, to local manufacturing in rich consuming countries; demand has shifted from heavy addiction habit by a few, to daily leisure consumption as generalized cultural practice.
The estimated number of people who used a drug in the past 12 months continued to grow, although very slowly, reaching almost 300 million. The increase is mostly attributable to global population growth (56% of all growth), as the estimated prevalence of drug use has increased minimally. Almost 1 in 13 people aged 13-64 worldwide used drugs in the past 12 months, and more than 1 in 100 has a serious drug disorder. With an estimated 219 million users, cannabis remains by far the most used drug worldwide. An estimated 60 million people consumed non-medical opioids, the second most used drug type worldwide. These opioids trends remain a major concern due to potentially severe health consequences. Information about the use of ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine confirm moderate long-term increases, despite the high level of uncertainty given the large data gaps.
Our speaker, Antonio Maria Costa, will examine these shifts in the drug market, supported by tables and charts. Their implications for society at large will be outlined. They are important as the drug problem has become both more serious for its ramification and social penetration, and more difficult to handle short of major cultural changes in our societies.
Antonio Maria Costa was Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Vienna (UNOV) from 2002 to 2010. Now retired, he is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Policy Modelling which acts as as a forum for analysis and debate on policy issues. The Journal focuses upon the economic, social and political developments that now shape the world economy and the policies needed to improve them.
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