`Drug abuse kills 200,000 people a year`

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2012, 22:53 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The United Nations has said that drug abuse worldwide kills about 200,000 people a year.

According to a report released by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), based on 2010 figures, global treatment for drug abusers would cost USD 250 billion a year if everyone needing help received the proper care.

But the report noted that far less than that is being spent, meaning fewer than 1 in 5 people needing help actually get it. Also, it said, loss of productivity and crimes committed by those needing to finance their habit result in additional huge costs for many countries.

The UN body said that about 230 million people or 5 per cent of the world`s population used illegal drugs at least once in 2010. But the agency noted significant gender gaps among them depending on where users came from, with female consumption in the United States about two-thirds that of males and as low as one tenth in India and Indonesia.

The report said the estimate of USD 200 billion - USD 250 billion about 160 billion to 200 billion euros needed for treatment of all requiring it is equivalent to between 0.3 and 0.4 per cent of the world`s GDP. In some countries, it said, per capita productivity losses are even more costly. For example, in the United States, such losses last year equalled 0.9 per cent of GDP.

Last year, the report said, global opium production was 7,000 tonnes, a fall of more than a fifth compared to the peak year of 2007. Still that was up from 2010, when disease destroyed almost half of the harvest in the No 1 opium producer, Afghanistan.

While the area under coca bush cultivation has fallen globally by 33 per cent over the past 12 years, that gain has "been offset by rising levels of synthetic drug production, including significant increases in the production and consumptions of psychoactive substances that are not under international control," said the Vienna-based agency.

Overall, illicit drug use "remained stable in the five years up to and including 2010, at between 3.4 and 6.6 per cent of the adult population," the report said. Cannabis was the most widely used drug worldwide.

(With Agency inputs)