International Day against Drug Abuse: UN report draws attention to the rising use of drugs among the youth

International Day against Drug Abuse: UN report draws attention to the rising use of drugs among the youth

Hummingbird News Desk

NEW DELHI, 26 JUNE: Every year 26 June is observed as International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day to create awareness about issues related to drugs and seek international cooperation to combat its effects on health, society, and governance.

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This year, the theme is ‘Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives’. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the motive is to combat misinformation by sharing real facts on drugs — from health risks and solutions for the world drug problem to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and care.

On the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for realising the vision of a drugs-free India, noting that they bring darkness, destruction and devastation.

He tweeted, “Today, on International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, I laud all those working at the grassroots to eliminate the menace of drugs from our society. Every such effort to save lives is vital. After all, drugs bring with it darkness, destruction and devastation.”

He added, “Let us reiterate our commitment to share facts on drugs and realise our vision of a drugs free India. Remember – addiction is neither cool nor a style statement.”

The United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report which seeks to draw attention to the rising use of drugs like cannabis among the youth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report came two days ahead of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on 26 June. It shows that drug-related deaths have nearly doubled over the past decade. Moreover, 10 percent of HIV cases in 2019, were due to people injecting themselves with harmful substances.

The UN’s report stated that around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the last year when the Covid-19 pandemic began in the first few months of 2020. Of the total, 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders

Thirteen percent of the total number of people who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders, the report stated, adding that opioids continue to account for the largest burden of disease attributed to drug use. However, accessibility to pharmaceutical opioids used to treat people with opioid-use disorders has increased over the past two decades.

The report also flagged the fast-growing drug markets on the dark web. While the phenomenon began only a decade ago, it is worth at least $315 million in annual sales, it said.

While the impact of Covid-19 on drug challenges is not yet fully known, the 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 – driving a rise in inequality, poverty, and mental health conditions particularly among already vulnerable populations – represent factors that could push more people into drug use,” the report concluded.

The 2021 World Drug Report found that drug markets across the world have resumed operations in full swing after they were disrupted at the beginning of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“The resilience of drug markets during the pandemic has demonstrated once again traffickers’ ability to adapt quickly to changed environments and circumstances,” the report said.

In addition to cannabis, the report cautioned against the likelihood of a growing cocaine market in Europe, as the cocaine supply chains are “diversifying, pushing prices down and quality up”.

However, despite the pitfalls caused by the pandemic in efforts to prevent drug abuse, the UN report says that the rise of telemedicine services have aided healthcare workers in reaching out to drug users for counselling and initial assessments.

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