Illicit drug use hits 230m mark worldwide

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IOL news june 29 heroin_march 15 INLSA File photo. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

About 230 million people or 5 percent of the world’s adult population are believed to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010, the World Drug Report says.

The use of illicit drugs along with their accessibility and the impact they have on young adults continue to be a worrying problem which authorities worldwide are struggling to combat and bring under control.

The Central Drug Authority (CDA) said different tactics and avenues needed to be explored to fight the usage and distribution of drugs.

CDA deputy chairman David Bayever said there was no single approach to fighting the problem such as criminalising or decriminalising substance usage as drug manufacturers were always one step ahead of authorities. There needed to be a plan to tackle and ensure market, supply and farm reduction.

“We have to address substance abuse and intensify our fight to ensure that our youth are protected. Also, that the right messages are given to them to help them make the right decisions. We have to keep up with the international changing landscape and how this affects us,” he said.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime southern Africa regional representative, Mandiaye Niang, painted a grim picture of how the production of opium had increased in Afghanistan. It is the world’s biggest opium producer while the rest of the world is faced with rising levels of synthetic drug production.

“Cannabis (dagga) remains the world’s most used illicit herb. It has grown and is trafficked in almost every country in the world,” he said.

The report, said cannabis remained the most widely used illicit substance globally, with an estimated annual prevalence in 2010 of 2.6 percent to 5.0 percent of the adult population (between 119 million and 224 million users aged 15 to 64).

Overall, annual prevalence of cannabis use remained stable in 2010 (2.8 percent to 4.5 percent of the adult population in 2009).

The highest prevalence of cannabis use is being reported in Oceania (essentially Australia and New Zealand) at 9.1 percent to 14.6 percent, followed by North America (10.8 percent), western and central Europe (7.0 percent) and west and central Africa (5.2 percent to 13.5 percent).

In 2010, experts from many countries in west and central Africa, southern Africa, south Asia and central Asia reported a perceived increase in cannabis use. Niang added that Africa and Asia were now the new emerging heroin markets and there had also been an increase in SA.

In 2010, an increase in heroin users was observed in Asia, but experts from many African countries also reported a perceived increase in the use of heroin.

Bayever admitted that their organisation had realised how problematic heroin was becoming in the country. “Heroin is becoming a bigger problem. Drug traffickers have realised that there is a demand for it and they are exploiting that.”

Pretoria News

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