World Drug Report 2022

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) publishes the “World Drug Report” on the occasion of “World Drug Day”. The report analyses market trends, compiling detailed statistics on the drug market. The”International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking“, also known as “World Drug Day”, is observed on 26 June every year. In 2022, the theme for World Drug Day is “Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crisis“.

About the World Drug Report 2022

The World Drug Report (WDR) 2022, released by UNODC, provides an in-depth analysis of global drug markets and examines the nexus between drugs and the environment within the bigger picture of the Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change, and Environment Sustainability.

The WDR 2022 presents an overview of the current trends in the global drug markets. It includes the latest information on drug use, production and trafficking.

It analyses the gender gap relating to drug use and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It aimed not only at promoting greater international cooperation to counter the world drug problem on health, governance, and security but also, with its remarkable insights, at assisting the Member States in anticipating and addressing threats from drug markets and mitigating their consequences.

The report considers the potential futures for the global opiates market given the recent changes in Afghanistan, looks at the impact of cannabis legalisation, and investigates the relationship between drugs and conflict.

It also includes a section with a specific focus on the effect of drugs on the environment.

Key Highlights of the Report

  • The WDR 2022 details record rises in the manufacturing of cocaine, the expansion of synthetic drugs to use markets, and continuous gaps in the availability of drug treatment, especially for women.
  • As per the report, around 284 million people aged 15-64 used drugs worldwide in 2020, showing a 26% increase over the previous decade.
  • Young people are using more drugs, with use levels today in many countries higher than with the previous generation.
  • In Africa and Latin America, the majority of the people under 35 are being treated for drug use disorders.
  • Globally, the report estimates that 11.2 million people worldwide were injecting drugs. Around half of this number were living with hepatitis C, 1.4 million were living with HIV, and 1.2 million were living with both.
  • The WDR 2022 also emphasises the importance of galvanising the international community, civil society, governments and all stakeholders to take urgent action to protect people, including by strengthening drug use prevention and treatment and tackling illicit drug supply.

Effects of Cannabis legalisation

As per the 2022 report, Cannabis legalisation in parts of the world appears to have accelerated daily use and related health. With the increased use, people are facing psychiatric disorders, suicides and hospitalisation. Legalisation has also increased tax revenues and generally reduced arrest rates for cannabis possession.

Conflict zones as magnets for synthetic drug production

The 2022 report highlights that illicit drug economies can flourish in cases of conflict or where the rule of law is weak and, in turn, can prolong or fuel conflict.

The report from the Middle East and South East Asia suggests that conflict situations can act as a magnet for the manufacture of synthetic drugs, which can be produced anywhere. This impact may be greater when the conflict area is close to large consumer markets.

The WDR 2022 also reveals that conflict may disrupt and shift drug trafficking routes.

Environmental impacts of drug markets

As per the World Drug Report 2022, illicit drug markets can have a local, community or individual-level impacts on the environment. The key finding of the reports includes that the carbon footprint of indoor cannabis is between 16 and 100 times more than outdoor cannabis on average.

Other environmental impacts include substantial deforestation associated with illicit coca cultivation, waste generated during synthetic drug manufacture that can be 5 to 30 times the volume of the end product, and the dumping of waste that can affect soil, water and air directly and organisms animals and food chains indirectly.

Gender treatment gap and disparities in drug use and treatment

Globally, women remain in the minority of drug users yet tend to increase their rate of drug consumption and progress to use drug use disorders more rapidly than men do. The treatment gap remains large for women worldwide.

Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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