Substance Abuse a Global Problem

While many articles regarding substance abuse focus on the issues and concerns of young people in the United States, the problem of substance abuse is actually a global issue.


Addiction to either drugs or alcohol is a trend that is on the rise throughout the world, regardless of whether or not these individuals reside in developed/rich countries or underdeveloped/poor countries.


These trends also exist in all countries without regard to illegality or legality of their manufacture and use.  Where certain drugs are illegal, they are still able to exist through underground trade.

Global trends in substance abuse illustrate that approximately 230 million individuals across the world have used some form of illegal drug at least once over the last five years.


Of this number, over 30 million individuals have a form of substance abuse problem that impacts their daily lives.  Over 15.3 million people have a substance abuse problem that can be considered an addiction.  The most popular form of drug is marijuana, with up to 230 million users in the world.


While some users are involved with marijuana because of health conditions and use a form of medical marijuana, many users are abusers and have a rate of use that adversely impacts their daily lives.


Other forms of popular drugs are the stimulant drugs or amphetamines such as cocaine, methamphetamine (METH) and a variety of prescription drugs.  The use of METH worldwide is a growing trend with up to 35 million estimated users.

Drugs that are traditionally legal in a number of countries such as alcohol and tobacco still cause the most health issues.  While the traditionally known illicit drugs have a morbidity rate of .8%, the morbidity rate for tobacco is 4.1% and for alcohol it is 4.0%.


Rates of alcohol use are high at 82 percent worldwide.  The common problems of prolonged alcohol abuse such as cirrhosis of the liver have a high cost to both the abuses and society as a whole.  Over 2.5 million people die each year from alcohol abuse.


Tobacco kills over 5 million people a year.  Injecting drug users are reported for up to 148 countries and have added health issues, including higher rates of HIV infections.

The illicit drug trade generates a lot of violence around the world.  At least 200,000 deaths each year are somehow related to drug trafficking.  These statistics are undoubtedly higher due to the fact that not all drug-trade murders are reported as such by various countries.


In addition, there is a tendency for agencies and governments to under-report crime rates.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals in the United States alone are imprisoned on drug-related charges, adding to the costs of substance abuse.

Substance abuse is expected to continue to rise across the globe, with up to 65 million abusers by the year 2050.  Developing countries are the hardest hit by substance abuse issues with a lack of treatment and prevention programs.


Closer to the UK, treatment services like this alcohol/substance treatment service in Peterborough can help users find help.


The costs on the world economy in terms of health impacts, mortality rates and legal issues are huge.


Many of the poorer countries are doubly impacted by rates of substance abuse and all of the negative impacts for these affected populations.