Australia has the highest proportion of illicit drug users in the world, according to United Nation’s 2014 World Drug Report.
The report, published by United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime, stated that Australia was at the top in consumption of Ecstasy, or MDMA, was third in methamphetamines and fourth in cocaine use.
The report, however, stated that even though the country topped in terms of Ecstasy consumption, there had been an overall decline in its use. “In Australia, expert opinion points to an increase in the consumption of cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens, solvents and inhalants, but a decline in the use of Ecstasy,” the report said.
It also suggested that a decline in the availability of heroin in the country had resulted in an increase in the abuse of prescription opioids. “In 2001, the heroin market in Australia underwent a supply drop and a consequent change in consumption patterns, in which most indicators of heroin use declined and some consumers resorted to prescription opioids as a substitute.”
“There is a wide range of drug analogues and new psychoactive substances that are currently available in the Australian illicit drug market,” it added.
In terms of prescription opioids like codeine and morphine, Australia was ranked second only to the U.S. The report stated that drug overdose was the “primary contributor to the global number of drug-related deaths,” and that opioids were primarily responsible for it.
Insofar as drug-related mortality rate, defined as the number of deaths per million persons aged 15 to 64, is concerned, North America topped the list, with a mortality rate of 142.1, considerably higher than the global average of 40. Australia and New Zealand taken together have a mortality rate of 77.5, second only to North America.
Dr Alex Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, told The Daily Telegraph that a combination of economic and social factors had contributed to an increase in demand for drugs in the country. “People on one hand have more money to spend and on the other there are more people who are at risk — and those that are at risk are getting worse because of high unemployment, poor job prospects and lack of optimism,” he said.
He also expressed concerns over increase in the number of deaths due to drug overdose and said that such deaths, which currently stand at three per day, had been rising fast.
The U.N. report also stated that worldwide, cannabis, or marijuana, continued to be the most popular drug of choice, even though there had been a decline in global marijuana use. In 2012, “between 125 million and 227 million people were estimated to have used cannabis.”
The report said that even though the global situation in terms of the prevalence of illicit drug use was “generally stable,” poly-drug use, or consumption of two or more substances at the same time, remained a “major concern.”