Synthetic drug use on rise, developing countries at risk: UN

Drug consumption is moving away from cocaine and opiates and increasingly towards synthetic drugs, a UN report said on Wednesday, while warning of growing drug use in developing countries.

Last Updated: Jun 23, 2010, 21:39 PM IST

Vienna: Drug consumption is moving away from
cocaine and opiates and increasingly towards synthetic drugs,
a UN report said on Wednesday, while warning of growing drug use in
developing countries.

"The world`s supply of the two main problem drugs --
opiates and cocaine -- keeps declining," the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found in its 2010 World Drug
Report presented today.
In the last two years, the land used for opium
cultivation worldwide has shrunk by 23 per cent, it noted,
while coca cultivation, most of it in the Andes and vital for
cocaine and heroin production, has dropped by 28 per cent in
the last decade.

On the flip-side however, the global number of users of
amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) -- between 30 and 40 million
-- was soon expected to top the combined number of opiate and
cocaine users, the UNODC warned.

"We will not solve the world drugs problem if we simply
push addiction from cocaine and heroin to other addictive
substances and there are unlimited amounts of them, produced
in mafia labs at trivial costs," director Antonio Maria Costa
said.
With short trafficking routes -- ATS are often produced
close to their target market -- and with raw materials readily
and legally available, these drugs were harder to seize, the
office noted.

While cocaine consumption has fallen significantly in the
United States, the number of users in Europe has doubled in
the last decade to 4.1 million in 2008, shifting trafficking
routes with disastrous consequences for regional security and
drug use in developing countries, the UNODC also said.

Summarising the problem, Costa pointed out: "People
snorting coke in Europe are killing the pristine forests of
the Andean countries and corrupting governments in West
Africa."

PTI