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Global population share of illicit drug use by drug 2018

Worldwide, it is estimated that 0.7 to 1.53 percent of the global population between 15 and 64 years of age have used opioids in the past year, while approximately 0.46 to 0.65 percent have used amphetamines. This statistic shows the estimated percentage of the global population that have used illicit drugs in the past year as of 2018, by drug type.

Substance use and addiction

Increased vulnerability to using drugs is highly associated with a lack of education about substances and their consequences. Other main factors include biologic factors such as genetic predisposition and personality traits as well as social and environmental factors including difficult home and school life, abuse and neglect, and social deprivation. However, not all who have used illicit substances become addicted, as there were more than 10 times more drug consumers than addicts worldwide in 2018. For those with drug use disorders, treatment varies per substance used, but can include detoxification and control of withdrawal symptoms often using medication, and psychological and behavioral support such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy. In 2015, one third of those in treatment for drug use worldwide were opioid users.

Consequences of illicit drug use

Furthermore, there are multiple consequences related to drug use. For example, an estimated 0.3 percent of the global population injected drugs in 2018, and unsafe injection carries the possibility of spreading blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, with hepatitis C being the greatest factor in all drug-related deaths. In 2018, there were over 43 million opioid users worldwide, although there is a high risk of fatal overdose. Impaired driving, as well as drug use while pregnant, are also causes of great concern. Globally, drug use also has additional burdens and costs associated with combating crime, health care, social consequences, and lost productivity.

Percentage of illicit drug use in global population by drug type 2018

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Release date

June 2020



Survey time period


Age group

15-64 years

Supplementary notes

Values based on past-year use.

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Statistics on "Global drug use"

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