International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking aims to combat misinformation and promotes sharing the facts on drugs — from health risks and solutions to how we can tackle the world drug problem, evidence-based prevention, treatment, and care.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders, (World Drug Report, 2021).
The Impact of COVID-19
COVID-19 has triggered innovation and adaptation in drug prevention and treatment services through more flexible models of service delivery. This has had a positive impact as many countries have introduced or expanded telemedicine services due to the pandemic, which for drug users means that healthcare workers can now offer counselling or initial assessments over the telephone and use electronic systems to prescribe controlled substances.
However, analysis suggests that the pandemic has brought increasing economic hardship that is likely to make illicit drug cultivation more appealing to fragile rural communities.
The social impact of the pandemic has led to a rise in inequality, poverty, and mental health conditions, particularly among already vulnerable populations, and this could push more people into drug use.
The Impact of Technology
The UNODC indicates that although drug markets on the dark web only emerged a decade ago, major ones are now worth at least US$ 315 million in annual sales.
While this is just a fraction of overall drug sales, the trend is upwards with a fourfold increase between 2011 to mid-2017 and mid-2017 to 2020.
Rapid technological innovation, combined with the agility and adaptability of those using new platforms to sell drugs and other substances, is likely to make drugs more available and accessible everywhere.
This, in turn, could trigger accelerated changes in patterns of drug use and have public health implications.
It is important that any prescription painkillers are sourced through a GP that can carry out an assessment of the patient’s needs.
United National: https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-drug-abuse-day
World Drug Report: https://wdr.unodc.org/
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