Developing Countries at Risk of Higher Drug Use

In terms of overall drug use, the good news is that it appears to be stabilizing in industrial countries; the bad news is there are signs that it could be on the rise in countries that are still developing. This assumption is based on a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

According to a recent IPS News report, these developing countries may not be able to handle to rise in drug abuse and could suffer more damage than their richer counterparts have in the past. Developing countries need to be concerned about a weaker health infrastructure, security at their borders and treatment programs.

The growth of drug abuse in the developing world is being driven by a number of things, including rises in heroin use in Eastern Africa; increases in cocaine use in West Africa and South America; and the production and abuse of synthetic drugs in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

There are currently 2.7 million cocaine users in South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean. An upward trend has been identified in West Africa, North America and Europe that still account for a combined 70 percent of the global cocaine demand. Western Europe maintains first place in heroin consumption at 26 percent, while China claims 13 percent.

An obvious shift is occurring among richer countries in terms of drug use. Reports suggest cocaine use in the United States has significantly declined in the past few years, while in Europe, the number of cocaine users has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.

Even with this shift, North America still dominates the market with $37 billion worth of share and 5.3 million users in 2008. In the same year, Europe had $34 billion of the market and 4.1 million users.

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