The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has published information showing how drugs and drug abuse is affecting different countries throughout the world. The information shows a world that is flooded with drug use, but more importantly, what drugs are the biggest threats in which countries. This information can allow researchers and law enforcement to best prevent further drug use and understand what problems are facing different governments around the world.
The drug of choice for the United States of late is opioids. Opioids consist of prescription painkillers and heroin. Addicts in the U.S. have struggled with heroin for decades, however, prescription painkillers have been a relatively new problem over the past 20 years or so. In the nineties, pharmaceutical companies began developing and marketing medications to combat chronic pain. Up until then, people who struggled with back pain or pain from surgeries or accidents oftentimes had to learn how to live with the pain were limited in the number of prescriptions available to them.
When prescription painkillers began to flood the market and promote their “benefits” heavily, doctors began prescribing the pills to patients in record numbers. Unfortunately, the level of addiction associated with prescription painkillers was severely underestimated and millions of people began to develop addictions to the pills. Since then, prescription painkillers have taken the country by storm, moving beyond chronic pain patients and into schools and neighborhoods.
The United States is not the only country to continue to struggle with opioids. Almost all of the heaviest addiction problems in Europe are to opioids. This information shows researchers that the problem is definitely more global in nature, rather than being isolated among a few countries. The focus on eliminating prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse may be more effective if done on a grander worldwide scale.
Drug use throughout the rest of the world seems to vary. The most common drug Canadians, Australians and Mexicans abuse is marijuana. Those living in Scotland are more likely to abuse cocaine, while those living in New Zealand are more likely to abuse Ecstasy. Although the report from the United Nations does not hypothesize why people in different countries tend to abuse different kinds of drugs, further research into this question may help to bring about a solution to the growing, worldwide drug problem.