Results of the First World-wide Study on Drug Abuse

The first-of-its-kind study of world-wide drug abuse has recently been completed and it provided some very interesting results.

  • There were more than 78,000 deaths attributed to drugs in 2010
  • More than half of those fatalities were due to prescription drugs
  • The drug that is used with the most frequency is marijuana
  • The most deaths are attributed to legal prescription drugs like codeine, oxycontin and vicodin
  • The group most likely to use illegal drugs are men in their 20s
  • The four countries with the highest rate of drug abuse are the US, Russia, the UK and Australia
  • If a country took a more “hard line” stance about illegal drug use, the percent of drug related deaths was much higher when compared to countries that focused on treatment
  • People typically abuse the type of drugs that are produced in their own area.  For example, Asian and Australians typically use opioids and amphetamines.  North Americans typically abuse more cocaine
  • Africa and Asia have the lowest percentage of drug abuse
  • Deaths attributed to drug abuse and mental health issues kill more people around the world than the combination of car accidents, tuberculosis, AIDS and diabetes
  • Countries that are still developing and have a problem with AIDS have seen slower increases in drug abuse.  While the focus is on helping people with their addictions in order to reduce the spread of AIDS, another benefit has been the slower drug use epidemic.

The researchers behind the study recommended an approach that is similar to how tobacco is handled.   By de-criminalizing the use of these drugs, there would be a tremendous saving in the criminal justice system.  Instead of spending that money on courts and prisons, it could be used to offer addiction treatment.


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