About 5 percent of the world’s population–200 million people–between 15 and 64 years old has used illegal drugs in the past year, says a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. That is 15 million more than last year’s estimate but significantly lower than the number who use tobacco and alcohol.
For most of Europe and Asia, opiates are the main problem drug, accounting for 62 percent of treatment demands in 2003. In South America, cocaine is the major problem. Cannabis (marijuana) is the most used drug, accounting for 161 million of the 2000 million recent drug users in the world. Amphetamines rank second, with 26.2 million users. The UN Agency is developing a global Illicit Drug Index (IDI), which “would provide a single, standard and comparable measure of a country’s overall drug problem, weighted by the size of its population.”