Substance Abuse

Information and statistics about substance abuse around the world. Statistics also includes drug addiction rates, drug trafficking information, and sales and prices of the illegal drug trade.

According to an annual threat assessment report by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, users of heroin in the country are starting at a younger age.

In 2009, the average age when a heroin abuser first started the drug was 25.5 years old. In 2010, it dropped to 21.4 years old, and settled at 22 years old in 2011.

In cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, 19.9 percent of people arrested who tested positive for heroin was under the age of 21. Between 2010 t0 2011, the number of heroin deaths in Minneapolis increased from 16 deaths to 46 deaths. Arrests  for heroin trafficking has also increased.

In 2010, a estimated 142,000 people tried heroin for the first time in the United States. In 2011, the number of first time heroin users increased to 178,000. During the time period of 2002 to 2008, the average range of first time heroin users was between 91,000 to 118,000.

(Heroin street price.)

Source (PDF):  “National Drug Threat Assessment Summary 2013,” U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, November 2013,  page 6.

(See all heroin facts and statistics.)

Through mid November 2013, security agents at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Indonesia recorded 83 cases of drug smuggling. The number of cases was higher than the 39 cases reported in 2012 and the 52 cases reported in 2011 by criminal justice programs.

Among the way that smugglers were bringing in drugs into the country was by inserting heroin into curtain rings and mailing it via international courier air services.

Source:  “Drug smuggling at airport on the rise,” Jakarta Post, November 20, 2013.

In a study conducted by Quest Diagnostics, less than 2 percent of workers in the United States tested positive for marijuana use through workplace drug testing. Back in 2002, just under 3 percent tested positive for marijuana.

The fall in workers testing positive stands in contrast to the numbers of Americans who use marijuana. According to reports by public health programs, 7.3 percent of Americans admitted to smoking marijuana within the previous month, an increase from the 5.8 percent in 2007.

The use of prescription drugs by US workers increased dramatically in recent years, according to the study. The use of Adderall and other types of amphetamines doubled between 2002 and 2012. Since 2005, the use of Vicodin by workers rose by 172 percent, and OxyContin use increased by 72 percent.

(See the price of marijuana around the world.)

Source:  Roberto A. Ferdman, “Americans are smoking more weed, but testing positive less often,” Quartz, November 18, 2013.

Source:  Charlotte Alter, “Study: Fewer Workers Using Cocaine and Marijuana, But Prescription Drug Use Is Up,” Time, November 18, 2013.

There are an estimated 300,000 people in Costa Rica between the ages of 13 to 35 who consume synthetic drugs such as ecstasy. 2 percent of students stated that they have tried ecstasy at least once in their life.

According to officials, a single ecstasy pill costs between $11 to $19 on the black market, while the UN reports that the price is $25 per tablet.  In comparison, a single hit of crack cocaine costs $1 in Costa Rica.

In the first 10 months of 2013, security services seized 11,300 doses of ecstasy in the country. 11,109 pills were seized in one campaign where the pills were being trafficked from Germany and the Netherlands.

In all of 2012, there was a total of 293 doses seized.

Source:  Mario Garita, “Cost Rica: Ecstasy use on the rise among children,” Infosurhoy, November 15, 2013.

The Cape Flats region of South Africa reportedly has one of the highest concentration of crystal meth users in the world, with 10 times the addicts as Johannesburg.

Back in 2004, an estimated 12,000 school children were using crystal meth, or “tik” as it is called in South Africa. By 2009, the number of children using meth increased to 69,00, with public health programs stating the the number is much higher in 2013. In total, an estimated 250,000 people are addicted to crystal meth in the region, out of a total population of 3 million.

(More facts about meth addiction.)

The meth is sold in drinking straws for $3. Users who are addicted are reportedly committing rapes and muggings while high. In one court case, a mother was given a suspended sentence and community service after she killed her son who was addicted to crystal meth. The mother stated that after being beaten, finding stolen goods in her house, and having her curtains set on fire that she simply could no longer deal with her son.

Teenagers armed with pit bulls also attack people in order to pay for their drug habits.

Two thirds of the residents in the region are unemployed, and one-quarter are HIV positive.

(Meth Prices by Country.)

Source:  Fred Bridgland, “South Africa Breaks Bad,” Herald Scotland, November 17, 2013.


A study released by the Government of Bolivia found that 58 percent of the coca that is cultivated in the country is used for traditional purposes.

The remaining 32 percent of coca is devoted to cocaine production.

In total, 25,300 hectares of coca was cultivated across Bolivia in 2012.

Bolivia is ranked third behind Peru and Colombia in terms of cocaine production worldwide. Over 40,000 people in the country depend on coca cultivation for income. The crop contributes to $332 Million to Bolivia’s economy.

(Cocaine prices by country.)

Source:  Associated Press, “Bolivia says most of its coca for traditional uses,” San Jose Mercury News, November 13, 2013.

In the Midwest region of the United States, the Sinaloa drug cartel is offering heroin at a cheaper rate the prescription pain killers.

According to a report by Bloomberg, users who are addicted to painkillers turn to heroin due to the costs. One pills of Vicodin sold on the black market costs around $5 to $6. As a user becomes more addicted to the pill, more pills are necessary to satisfy the craving. One user stated that she was taking up to 10 Vicodin pills a day for a cost of $50 per day.

(More prices of heroin for sale around the world.)

The Sinaloa cartel, on the other hand, was offering one-tenth of a gram for $10. Due to the strength of the heroin, two to three hits of heroin could last the same user for the entire day, cutting down on the costs.  The Sinaloa cartel’s heroin is 94 percent pure, according to security services, and is a point of pride for the cartel.

Up to 50 metric tons of heroin is produced in Mexico each year. Nearly half of all heroin abused in the United States is produced in Mexico, with the remaining heroin being smuggled in from South America and Asia.

(All heroin addiction facts and statistics here.)

Source:  Andrew Martin, “Cartel Hits Midwest With Heroin Killing Chicago Youth,” Bloomberg, November 12, 2013.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that the total area in Afghanistan that was planted with opium was 209,000 hectares in 2013. Out of the total area, the potential production of opium was 5,500 tones.

The are of opium cultivation in 2013 was the highest levels ever recorded an a 36 percent increase from the year before. It was also the first time ever that the total area of opium cultivation was over 200,000 hectares.

Source:  “Afghanistan opium harvest at record high – UNODC,” BBC News, November 13, 2013.

In 2013, it was reported that the Mexican drug cartel Knights Templar was earning over $6 Million a month in various black market activities.

Based on intelligence agencies estimates, media organizations in Mexico stated that the cartel was earning $2.2 Million each month transporting illegal drugs. $1 Million was collected each month through extortion threats to local businesses, and another $1 Million raised from extorting local government officials. An addition $600,000 in illicit income was generated from car theft and kidnapping for ransom.

$1.3 Million in revenue was generated from legitimate businesses that the cartel operates. These businesses are also used as money laundering venues to launder the black market funds.

It should be noted that these funds are separate from any profits that the drug cartel earns from illegal drugs sales in the United States.

(More money laundering techniques here.)

Source:  Charles Parkinson, “Mexico’s Knights Templar Earns $73 Mn Before US Drug Profits,” Insight Crime, November 8, 2013.

According to figures released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 227 million methamphetamine pills were seized across East and Southeast Asia in 2012. The number of pills seized was a 59 percent increase from the 142 million seized in 2011.

(See all facts about meth.)

Back in 2007, criminal justice programs seized 25 million pills across East and Southeast Asia.

102.2 million meth pills in 2012 were seized in China, followed by Thailand with 95.3 million meth pills seized, and Myanmar had 18.2 million pills seized.

(Price of Meth by country.)

Source:  Associated Press, “UN Says Asia Meth Seizures Hit Highs in 2012,” ABC News, November 8, 2013.