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UN: Opioids cause two-thirds of global drug deaths

By
Tauren Dyson
The number of global opioid users increased by 56 percent in 2017, the United Nations reported on Wednesday. File Photo by Leksiiedorenko/Shutterstock
The number of global opioid users increased by 56 percent in 2017, the United Nations reported on Wednesday. File Photo by Leksiiedorenko/Shutterstock

June 26 (UPI) -- About 217 million people worldwide abuse illicit drugs in 2017, representing a 30 percent jump from 10 years prior, according to new latest figures released Wednesday.

Much of that came from an increase in opioid use, which spiked by 56 percent globally compared to previous estimates, according to a new report published by the United Nations.

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Over 51,000 opioid overdoses were reported in the United States and Canada alone in 2017.

In contrast, countries in Africa are facing their own drug crisis with an opioid called Tramadol. Seizures of the drug worldwide have gone up from fewer than 22 pounds in 2010 to roughly 125 tons in 2017, the report says.

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Other widely misused opioids include heroin, fentanyl, Oxycontin and Vicodin.

"The findings of this year's World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and demand," Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a news release.

The number of people around the world using all drugs has gone up by 30 percent. A 10 percent global population spike, along with an increase in opioid use in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, have contributed greatly to overall drug use, according to the report.

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Despite the growing problem, only one in seven people abusing drugs receives treatment, the report also points out.

"Not enough people with drug disorders are being adequately treated, with the study showing that just one in seven people with disorders are getting the help they need. Effective treatments, based on scientific evidence and in line with international human rights obligations, are not as available or accessible as they need to be," the report read.

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