Cocaine manufacture grew by more than 10 per cent between 2019 and 2020 to more than 1,900 tons, according to UNODC’s World drug report 2022. Cocaine seizures also hit a record high of more than 1,400 tons in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost 90 per cent of the cocaine seized in 2021 trafficked in containers and/or by sea.
The findings echo EMCDDA’s recent European drug report 2022, which stated that cocaine availability in Europe is now surpassing pre-pandemic levels (www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/european-cocaine-availability-surpassing-pre-pandemic-levels/).
Cocaine trafficking also appears to be expanding to areas outside of the traditional markets of Europe and North America, say UNODC, with increased levels of trafficking to Africa and Asia. The quantities of methamphetamine seized also grew five-fold in the decade to 2020.
Almost 285m people aged 15-64 used drugs in 2020, says the UNODC report – more than 25 per cent up over the previous decade. ‘Young people are using more drugs, with use levels today in many countries higher than in the previous generation,’ it states, with people under 35 now representing the majority of people being treated for drugs issues in Africa and Latin America.
Around 11.2m people were injecting drugs, the document says, around half of whom were living with hepatitis C, compared to 1.4m living with HIV – 1.2m were living with both. Overdose deaths in North America and Canada, meanwhile, ‘continue to break records’ and are driven primarily by ‘an epidemic of the non-medical use of fentanyl’. The treatment gap remains large for women across the world, the report adds. ‘Women remain in the minority of drug users globally yet tend to increases their rate of drug consumption and progress to drug use disorders more rapidly than men do.’
There can be ‘no effective prevention or treatment without recognition of the problem and the necessary funding to address the problem,’ says the report. ‘Public resources are stretched to the limit by competing demands, but we cannot afford to let commitment wane. We need to promote compassion and better understanding.’
‘Numbers for the manufacturing and seizures of many illicit drugs are hitting record highs, even as global emergencies are deepening vulnerabilities,’ said UNODC executive director Ghada Waly. ‘At the same time, misperceptions regarding the magnitude of the problem and the associated harms are depriving people of care and treatment and driving young people towards harmful behaviours. We need to devote the necessary resources and attention to addressing every aspect of the world drug problem, including the provision of evidence-based care to all who need it, and we need to improve the knowledge base on how illicit drugs relate to other urgent challenges, such as conflicts and environmental degradation.’