Opioids are the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Europe

According to a global report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime opioids are the main reason for people going into drug rehab treatment in Europe. The most commonly used opioid is heroin, but abuse of medical opioids is also on the rise.

The World Drug Report 2019 provides comprehensive information and analysis divided into reader-friendly booklets in which drugs are grouped by their psychopharmacological effect for the first time in the report’s history.

A total 271 million people used some kind of drug in 2017. The number of people addicted to drugs exceeded expectations, according to the report, with 35 million. It is significantly more than an earlier estimate of 30.5 million people suffering from drug disorders globally.

When it comes to opioids, globally, 53.4 million people used this kind of drugs in 2017 — 56 percent higher than previously estimated. Synthetic opioids continue to pose a serious threat to health, with overdose deaths rising in North America and trafficking in fentanyl and its analogues expanding in Europe and elsewhere.

There are signs of increasing non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids in Western and Central Europe, as reflected in the increasing proportion of admissions to treatment for the use of those substances.

The report includes information on key findings and policy implications, global overview of the latest estimates of and trends in the supply, use and health consequences of drugs, recent trends in the market for depressants (including opioids, sedatives, tranquillizers and hypnotics), recent trends in the market for stimulants (including cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances), review of recent trends in the market for cannabis and for hallucinogens. The section on cannabis also includes a review of the latest developments in the jurisdictions that have adopted measures allowing the non-medical use of cannabis.

The World Drug Report 2019 is aimed at improving the understanding of the world drug problem and contributing towards fostering greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.

Read the report

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