ISLAMABAD, Jul 20 (APP): Around 5 per cent of adult population in the world or nearly 250 million people between ages of 15 and 64 used at least one drug in 2014 while drug-related mortality remained stable with around 207,000 deaths.

This figure, although substantial, has not grown over
past four years in proportion to global population.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which
launched a World Drug Report-2016 here on Wednesday suggested that number of people classified as suffering from drug-use disorders has increased disproportionally for first time in six years.

There are now over 29 million people within this category
(compared to previous figure of 27 million).

Additionally, around 12 million people inject drugs with
14 per cent of these living with HIV. The overall impact of drug use in terms of health consequences continues to be devastating.

This report comes soon after April’s UN General Assembly
special session on world drug problem (UNGASS), a landmark moment in global drug policy which resulted in a series of concrete operational recommendations.

Collectively, these look to promote long-term, sustainable,
development-oriented and balanced drug control policies and

UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov has noted it is
critical that international community come together to ensure commitments adopted at UNGASS are met.

By providing a comprehensive overview of major developments in drug markets, trafficking routes and health impact of drug use, the World Drug Report 2016 highlighted support for comprehensive, balanced and integrated rights-based approaches as reflected in outcome document which emerged from the UNGASS.

With regard to drug use and its health consequences, the
report revealed drug-related mortality has remained stable around the world and in 2014, there were still around 207,000 deaths reported.

Heroin use, and related overdose deaths, appear to have
increased sharply over last two years in some countries
in North America and Western and Central Europe.

Underlining significance of this, Mr. Fedotov noted
that while challenges posed by new psychoactive substances remain a serious concern, “heroin continues to be drug that kills the most people and this resurgence must be addressed urgently.

By analyzing trends over several years, the report showed
that with changing social norms towards cannabis – predominantly in west – cannabis use has climbed in parallel with higher acceptability towards the drug.

In many regions, more people have entered treatment for
cannabis use disorders over the past decade.

The World Drug Report-2016 also included new findings
related to people who inject drugs (PWID) such as link between use of stimulants (among them new psychoactive substances which are not under international control) and engaging in risky injecting which can result in a higher risk of HIV infection, is looked at.

Additional findings point to high levels of drug use
in prison, including use of opiates and injecting drug use.

Prisons, therefore, remain a high-risk environment for infectious diseases, and the prevalence of HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis among persons held in prison can be substantially higher than among general population.

Gender disparities can be attributed to opportunity of drug
use in a social environment, rather than gender being a factor determining drug use.

Within the family context, female partners and children of
drug users are also more likely to be victims of drug-related

With 2016 marking the first year of adoption of new
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report provided a special focus on world drug problem within this context.

In analyzing these linkages the SDGs have been divided
in five broad areas – social development, economic development, environmental sustainability, peaceful, just and inclusive societies and partnerships.

The report highlighted a strong link between poverty and
several aspects of drug problem. Indeed, the brunt of drug use problem is borne by people who are poor in relation to societies in which they live, as can be seen in stark terms in wealthier countries.

The strong association between social and economic disadvantage and drug use disorders can be seen when analyzing different aspects of marginalization and social exclusion, such as unemployment and low levels of education.

The report also shed some light on varied ways in which the
world drug problem results in different manifestations of violence.

While the intensity of drug-related violence is greatest when
associated with drug trafficking and production, these do not
necessarily produce violence, as illustrated by the low levels of homicide in transit countries affected by opiate trafficking routes in Asia.

The excessive use of imprisonment for drug-related offenses
of a minor nature is ineffective in reducing recidivism and
overburdens criminal justice systems, preventing them from
efficiently coping with more serious crimes.

Provision of evidence-based treatment and care services
to drug-using offenders, as an alternative to incarceration,
has been shown to substantially increase recovery and reduce recidivism.