200 million use illegal drugs: Lancet estimate

About 200 million people around the world use illicit drugs, according to a study published on Friday in The Lancet.

It estimates that in 2009 between 149 and 271 million people used an illegal drug.

Cannabis users comprised between 125 and 203 million; users of opioids (heroin and morphine), amphetamines or cocaine totalled 15 to 39 million; and those who injected drugs numbered between 11 and 21 million.

Drug use is more prevalent in rich economies and in drug-producing regions of poor countries and is often a major health burden, the paper adds.

"Cannabis use is associated with dependence and mental disorders, including , but does not seem to substantially increase mortality," it says.

"Illicit opioid use is a major cause of mortality from fatal overdose and dependence," it says, adding that injecting drug users faced specific threats of catching HIV and hepatitis by sharing needles.

All three types of drugs seem to be associated with higher rates of mental disorders, and violence, although information about this is often sketchy.

The estimate is based on data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), from national surveys and peer-reviewed studies into the impact of drug use.

Ecstasy, LSD, non-medical use of prescription drugs and are not included in the estimate.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cannabis link to other drugs

Jul 19, 2011

Quitting cannabis use in your 20s significantly reduces the chance of progressing to other illicit drugs, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Recommended for you

Report highlights progress, challenges in health IT

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Progress has been made toward widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), although there are still barriers to adoption of advanced use of EHRs, according to a report published ...

Training your brain to prefer healthy foods

14 hours ago

It may be possible to train the brain to prefer healthy low-calorie foods over unhealthy higher-calorie foods, according to new research by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center ...

Outdoor enthusiasts need a lightning plan

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Those partaking in outdoor sports and activities need to be aware of the threat posed by lightning and take appropriate safety measures, experts say.

User comments