Growing Concern on Non-Medical Use of Prescription Drugs
The global production of opium and coccaine has hit a record high, sending an alarm to the global community for its impact to public health and law enforcement.
According to the latest World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) , global opium production jumped by 65 per cent to 10,500 tons in 2016-2017. This is the highest estimate recorded by UNODC since it started monitoring global opium production at the start of the twenty-first century.
Global cocaine manufacture in 2016 reached the highest level ever reported, with an estimated 1,410 tons produced.
With the production so considerably high, the problem now is how these drugs are being abused and how it harms the community, especially when not used for medical reasons.
The non medical use of opioids has become a major threat to public health. This is true in the United States where in 2016 saw a record 63,632 people die of a drug overdose, a 21 percent increase on 2015.
While fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin is the main drug of its kind on the American market, the UNODC also expressed “growing concern” over opioid use elsewhere.
The number of deaths globally directly caused by the use of drugs increased by 60 per cent from 2000 to 2015.
The Source and Rise in Drug Abuse
Opium production is significantly high in Afghanistan. In 2016, Afghanistan, the world’s largest supplier of heroin – is estimated to have produced 4,800 tonnes of opium. But last year, the country’s opium production reached 9,000 tons.
However, the global seizure of pharmaceutical opioids in 2016 was 87 tons, roughly the same as the quantities of heroin seized that year. Seizures of pharmaceutical opioids – mainly tramadol in West and Central Africa, and North Africa accounted for 87 per cent of the global total in 2016.
The increase in Afghanistan’s illicit drug production correlates with a rise in drug abuse among its neighbors. According to the World Drug Report 2006, Afghanistan’s neighbors in South and Central Asia are among the countries with the highest drug use.
Afghanistan is the largest cultivator of the opium poppy, responsible for most of the illicit opium, heroin and opium derivatives hitting world markets. This makes the Afghan poppy harvest a global problem, and is why international backers including the United States have funded programs since 2001 to help the Afghan government eradicate opium poppy cultivation.
The U.S. government has spent more than $300 million in the past two years on developing alternative livelihoods in Afghanistan.