In observance of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also known as World Drug Day, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released the latest edition of its annual World Drug Report, shining a light on the latest trends in drug use and trafficking around the world.
According to the report, global drug use has been on the rise in recent years, with the number of 15-64 year-olds using drugs climbing from 210 million in 2009 to an estimated 269 million users in 2018. While cannabis remains the most widely used substance with an estimated 192 million users in 2018, opioids are by far the most harmful drug in the world. With an estimated 58 million users, opioids accounted for 66 percent of the 167,000 drug-related deaths in 2017. The United States, which has been grappling with an opioid crisis for years, had more than 10 million opioid users in 2018, accounting for the lion’s share of the country’s drug-related deaths.
As the following chart shows, the opioid crisis is taking a deadly toll on America as the number of drug-related deaths per million people aged 15-64 is much higher than in any other country in the world. With a rate of 314.5 deaths per million and an estimated total of 67,367 drug-related deaths in 2018, the U.S. lost more lives to the use of drugs than the next 20 countries combined. With an estimated number of 25,727 drug-related deaths, China was the second worst affected country in terms of lives lost. In terms of the drug-related mortality rate, Australia came second with 202.6 deaths per million people aged 15-64.