UNODC Says Over 64m Globally Suffer From Drug Use Disorders

Over 64 million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders, while hundreds of thousands lose their lives to drug use every year.

Ghada Waly, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), made the disclosure on Wednesday.

She made this known during a special event organised by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in commemoration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, marked annually on June 26.

The event was themed “Evidence to Impact: Powering Effective Drug Policies with Data Collection and Research.”

Ms Waly said that roughly 14 million people around the world injected drugs and are more likely to contract HIV and Hepatitis C.

According to Ms Waly, the 2024 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking focused on the need to invest in prevention.

“By investing more, we can prevent drug use by young people, prevent many overdose deaths and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

“We can alleviate pain and loss today while building resilience for the challenges of tomorrow,” Ms Waly said.

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She said that governments and other stakeholders must be equipped with data and evidence to inform responses and galvanise action.

According to the official, this is the role of the World Drug Report, which sends a clear message that the world drug problem is evolving in dynamic, dangerous ways, with vulnerable people paying the price with their health and well-being.

She said that the problem had continued to be characterised by inequality between those with the means to access health and those without.

“As of 2022, only around one in 11 people with drug use disorders around the world received drug treatment, and coverage is even lower when looking at Asia or Africa alone.

“The treatment gap also overlaps with gender inequality.

“Only one in 18 women with drug use disorders receives treatment, with women continuing to face greater consequences for drug use and greater stigma and discrimination,” she added.

The 2024 UNODC World Drug Report was also launched during the event.

Philbert Johnson, the chair of the 67th Session of CND and Ghana’s Permanent Representative to UN Offices in Vienna, said that the report was a roadmap for evidence-based action.

Mr Johnson said it served as a comprehensive resource for policymakers and researchers, offering valuable insights into the current drug landscape and highlighting emerging trends, regional variations, and the impact of drug policies.

He said that evidence played a vital role in shaping policy decisions, adding that in the realm of drug policy, data collection and research provided transformative power.

“They enable us to understand drug abuse patterns, trends, and the social and economic consequences that follow.

“We have witnessed the positive outcomes that stem from evidence-driven initiatives.

“By leveraging data and research, communities have been able to implement targeted interventions that address specific drug-related issues.

“The power of data lies in its ability to guide our decision-making, ensuring that our policies are not only effective but also responsive to the evolving nature of the world drug problem,” he said.

Mr Johnson, however, said that drug-related challenges continued to evolve, presenting complex obstacles.

He said that stakeholders must be prepared to be innovative, leveraging evidence as their guide.

He added that a multi-sectoral approach involving governments, civil society organisations, researchers, and international partners must be taken.

“By collaborating, sharing knowledge, and pooling resources, we can develop comprehensive and sustainable solutions,” Mr Johnson said