Drugs killed 183 thousand people in 2012, according to UN

A new report by the United Nations Office on drugs and Crime (UNODC) released on Thursday pointed out that 183,000 people died in 2012 as a result of drug use around the world. The number is 13% less than the 2011 (210,000 deaths). According to the UNODC, the main reason for this decline was the decrease of deaths in some countries in Asia.

The document considers deaths related to drugs those resulting from overdose, HIV transmission through injecting drug use, suicide and unintentional trauma suffered by users.

UNODC calculated that, in 2012, between 152 and 325 million people have experienced at least once any illicit drug. The number of regular or dependent consumers remained stable: from 16 to 39 million people. Marijuana, opiates, cocaine and amphetamines were the predominant drug stimulants.

Opiates (opium-derived substances, such as heroin) and opioids (drugs that use opium as active ingredient, such as morphine) topped the list of products that caused more illnesses and deaths. For the third consecutive year, the country’s leader in Afghanistan, poppy cultivation (the plant from which opium is extracted), recorded an increase in cultivation: surface of 154,000 acres in 2011 to 209,000 in 2012.

Marijuana — according to the UNODC, the marijuana consumption decreased in the world except the United States. “The impression that marijuana is not as dangerous led to the increase of their use in the country,” says the document. On the impact of the recent legalization of drug consumption in Uruguay and in some American States, the report says it will take years to assess its effects.

Cocaine — compared to cocaine, the document states that its consumption is concentrated in America, Europe and Oceania. “Virtually the entire world production is performed in three South American countries (Bolivia, Colombia and Peru). Although the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking of this drug have had great repercussion in the Western Hemisphere, there are indications that its availability has decreased worldwide, “says the report.

At the end of 2012, the area dedicated to the cultivation of coca, the base product for cocaine, was of 133,700 hectares — 14% less than in 2011 and the lowest since 1990, when records began. “In South America, consumption and trafficking of cocaine became more notorious, especially in Brazil, by factors such as its geographical location and its large urban population,” says the document. UNODC mentions a 2009 survey of the National Secretariat of policies on Drugs (Senad) according to which 3% of Brazilian University students use cocaine.