It’s no secret that America is in the grips of a severe crisis. Every day, 120 people die in the US as a result of opioid-related overdose. The opioid epidemic has reached new heights, overtaking gun violence and car crashes as a leading cause of death. With an estimated 23.5 million Americans currently struggling with addiction, the US has a long road to recovery as a whole. But this begs the question, while we all know that America clearly has a drug epidemic, what about the rest of the world? Americans tend to be very egoistic on many issues, and sometimes rightfully so. But what’s going on in the terms of a drug epidemic around the world?
Luckily, you’re not the only one who may have been asking this very question. Extensive research has been performed over the past few years to see just how far spread the drug epidemic is. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime releases an annual report on current trends and statistics surrounding drug use and abuse to keep track on how illicit drugs are impacting the planet.
In their 2011 edition, it was revealed that globally, it is estimated that 210 million people use illicit drugs. This number is almost as staggering as the follow-up statistic, that out of those 210 million people, 200,000 people die as a result of their drug use. In 2016, the report estimated that approximately a quarter of a billion people use at least one illegal or improperly used a drug. That means, about 1 in every 20 adults abused drugs.
The United Nations has declared that there is a heavily unmet need on a global scale for drug abuse prevention, treatment, care, and support. An overall lackadaisical understanding of the disease of addiction appears to be the main culprit, especially in developing countries and communities.
As time rolls on, trends in illicit drugs and their popularity in certain areas come and go. While cocaine use has increased in the Americas and Europe, so has the trend of polydrug use. Polydrug use is the term used to refer to using two or more psychoactive drugs in order to achieve a particular effect. Not to mention the drug epidemic in the United States in regards to opioids.
So, How does the Rest of the World Measure Up to America?
In terms of the drug epidemic, America definitely trumps the rest in the world as far as exponential growth of drug use. Heroin use alone in the United States is up 145% since 2007 according to the United Nations. The rest of the world has remained fairly steadfast in the growth of populations abusing various illicit drugs. However, one trend shared by Americans and the rest of the world is that the number of deaths as a result of drug use is on the rise.
The use of the “darknet” to traffic and purchase drugs and illegal psychoactive chemical compounds has become the new common practice. The darknet is a portion of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous and untraceable. Thanks to the darknet, sites like eBay specifically for drugs, having been cropping up all over, allowing for easier access than ever to illicit drugs turning the internet into a global drug marketplace. The consistent buying and selling of these drugs online have even begun to impact global economies.
Cocaine, for example, is a huge industry worldwide. In North America, it accounts for $37 billion per year in net worth. In Europe, it’s $33 billion. The drug epidemic is so ingrained into our cultures, that the collapse of the drug industry could actually collapse a multitude of global markets. In many developing countries, the value of the drug trade far exceeds that of their legitimate economic markets.
It’s in the Numbers
So as far as the numbers correlated to actual drug use in each individual country, the statistics are truly startling. The true picture of the drug epidemic is painted far more clearly by the actual numerical representation of its effects. The combined number of deaths worldwide in correlation to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use is 12.4% of all people.
The overdose statistics divided by region is even more alarming. In North America, 43,982 people die every year as a result of drug overdose- roughly 120 per day. In South America, more specifically Uruguay, drug overdose claims the lives of approximately 365 people per year. However, this is based on a population of only 3.4 million. In Australia, 2,114 people die per year from the drug epidemic or about 5.8 people per day. China has an estimated 49,000 deaths per year, but due to their large population, exact numerical representations do not exist. Lastly, European deaths are approximately 11,880 people annually. This breaks down to about 16 deaths per million people.
What Can We Do?
Since the drug epidemic is glaringly obvious around the world, we are left to ask: what can we do about it? The top priority of the United Nations, as well as world leaders in general, is education. Many countries do not have the resources or information available to combat the drug epidemic by educating their citizens of the dangers of drugs. A lack of knowledge means a lack of prevention.
This education of the masses is especially important when it comes to another worldwide epidemic: HIV. The disease is spread through sexual contact, contact with bodily fluids, and most easily: blood to blood. In terms of the drug epidemic, using dirty needles among intravenous users has incited an increase in the spread of HIV infections. The United Nations estimates that out of the 11.2 to 22 million people who inject drugs, 1.2 to 3.9 million have HIV. This is equal to 11.5 percent of all intravenous drug users being HIV positive.
The drug epidemic on a global scale is equally as frightening as the drug epidemic we’re facing in America. The only way to counteract this global issue is by starting to combat it in our local communities. By staying informed and spreading accurate information regarding the disease of addiction, we can do our part in fighting back!
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It can be intimidating to know that addiction and alcoholism are always right around the corner. Sometimes getting that little push and having medical guidance can be what it takes. Relapse and active addiction/alcoholism are only as preventable as much as we value the sobriety we hold in our hands. If you or a loved one has been struggling with getting a firm grasp on sobriety and need detoxification, please call 800-982-5530 or visit restoredetoxcenters.com. Our teams of specialists are waiting by to help figure out what options are best for sending your life is a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.