Only one in six drug users has access to treatment

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26 June 2014 - Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), appeals for a stronger focus on the health and human rights of all drug users, but particularly those who inject drugs and are living with HIV as we highlight the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

“There remain serious gaps in service provision. In recent years only one in six drug users globally has had access to or received drug dependence treatment services each year”.

Sustainable success in drug control requires firm international commitment and a balanced and comprehensive approach. This should address both supply and demand and should be backed up by evidence-based responses focusing on prevention, treatment, social rehabilitation and integration.

The UNODC 2014 World Drug Report examined the trends in drug use of opioids, heroin, cocaine and cannabis. It found that there has been a surge in opium production in Afghanistan, meaning the world’s largest opium poppy-grower has increased its area under cultivation by 36 per cent and represents 80 per cent of the global opium production. In 2013, the global production of heroin also rebounded to high levels.

Drug use prevalence is, however, stable around the world, according to the report. About five per cent of the world’s population aged 15-64 used an illicit drug in 2012, problem drug users meanwhile numbered about 27 million, or 1 in every 200 people.

The globalization of the chemical trade has made it easier to divert chemicals from legal to illegal uses. Seizures of methamphetamine more than doubled globally between 2010 and 2012. Methamphetamine manufacture expanded once again in North America, with a large increase in the number of meth laboratories dismantled in the US and Mexico. The number of unregulated new psychoactive substances on the global market more than doubled to 348 from 2009 to 2013.

Mr. Fedotov urged utmost vigilance: “Monitoring global chemical flows is especially important with the rising manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs, which cannot be controlled with traditional supply reduction approaches such as crop eradication”, he said. “A robust international control system must remain a key supply control strategy”.