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.

5.1 percent of residents in Peru’s capital of Lima abused cocaine in 2013, according to a report by a drug monitoring organization. 8.9 percent of the city’s residents used marijuana.

Across the entire country, 2.4 percent of the population aged 12 to 65 abused cocaine in Peru, an increase of over 60 percent from the 1.5 percent who used cocaine in 2010. Marijuana use in Peru also increased during that time period, from 5.6 percent to 7.5 percent.

(Marijuana prices by country.)

Source:  Natalie Southwick, “Cocaine Use in Peru Increases 60% in 3 Years,” Insight Crime, November 7, 2013.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that over 200 tons of cocaine is transported across Central America. Grown in the South, the cocaine moves north through Guatemala on its way to markets in the United States and Europe. The value of the cocaine that is passed through Guatemala is estimated to be worth $6 Billion.

According to organized crime researchers at Insight Crime, smugglers in Guatemala earn between $600 Million to $800 Million a year moving the drugs across the country. These “transportistas”, as they are called, are responsible for getting the drugs through territory that they are responsible for. In addition of moving the cocaine, the haulers also participate in the money laundering of funds generated from the sales. Security officials in November 2013 seized $1.4 Million in cash from a single car.

(More profits and earnings from under the table activities.)

Source:  Charles Parkinson, “Seizure Highlights Guatemala’s Poor Record in Cash Smuggling,” Insight Crime, November 6, 2013.

Federal data from the United States showed that nearly 80 percent of people who used heroin in 2011 also previously abused prescription painkillers in 2011.

The rise in prescription drug abuse in the United States has lead to a rise in the number of people using heroin. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of people using heroin in the United States increased from 373,000 to 669,000.

Health experts state that when people become addicted to painkillers, the will turn to the black market to find pills to satisfy their addiction. If they can’t find pills, then they will turn to heroin. (Latest heroin addiction statistics.)

Both heroin and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone are derived from opium. They both share a similar molecule that attaches to the brain’s receptor, which gives the user a positive feeling when the drug is taken, and a negative feeling when it is not taken. Thus, both painkillers and heroin are extremely addictive to users and are interchangeable when addicted.

Source:  “With Rise Of Painkiller Abuse, A Closer Look At Heroin,” NPR, November 2, 2013.

There were an estimated 1.6 million drug users in Afghanistan in 2013, roughly 5.3 percent of the country’s population. 10 percent of households across Afghanistan has at least one drug user residing there.

In the city of Herat, 20 percent of households has a drug user residing there with roughly 8 percent of the city population abusing drugs. Across the entire province, security services state that there are 60,000 to 70,000 drug addicts, with public health programs claiming 100,000.  18 percent of intravenous drug users in the city were infected with HIV, compared to 3 percent of intravenous drug users in Kabul.

In October 2013, the intelligence agency of Afghanistan fired 65 employees because they were addicted to opium.

(See all heroin addiction facts.)

In order to treat the drug addicts, there are under 28,000 formal drug treatment slots available nationwide, according to health officials. The criminal justice system of Afghanistan spends less than $4 Million a year on treatment, and relies on $12 Million in international aid to meet the costs.

Between 2001 and 2013, the United States has spent over $6 Billion to battle the opium industry in Afghanistan. In 2010 to 2012, opium cultivation increased to its highest levels since 2008. Demand for Afghan heroin and the prices of heroin have remained steady.

Source:  Azam Ahmed, “That Other Big Afghan Crisis, the Growing Army of Addicts,” New York Times, November 2, 2013.

Nyaope, or Whoonga, is a street drug that is popular in South Africa. The drug is made up of various products, such as marijuana, low-grade heroin, rat poison and HIV-antiretrovirals. The drug is sold on the black market for $30 (30 South African Rand).

Public health programs in South Africa  started noticing  incidents of the drugs beginning in 2007 and have seen a rise in the number of cases. At a single drug treatment center near Johannesburg, 63 people received treatment for nyaope addiction in April 2013. In June, the number of addicts receiving drug treatment increased to 134, and 223 patients were recorded in August 2013.

(Find out how much heroin costs worldwide.)

Source:  “South Africa’s poorest hooked on cocktail of heroin and anti-HIV drugs,” NBC News, October 31, 2013.


According to a marijuana eradication task force in Fresno County, officials has identified over 500 illegal marijuana plantations growing in the Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon in Central California in the first 10 months of 2013. Security officials seized nearly 2,400 marijuana plants, over double the number of plants seized in all of 2012.

Environmental and wildlife officials are concerned about the use of pesticides by the marijuana growers. Using a poison called second generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGAR), the growers use the chemical to keep wild animals from eating their marijuana plants. A quarter teaspoon of the pesticide has enough poison to kill a 500 pond lion, yet marijuana farmers are using up to 50 times that amount on their plants. Officials has found two endangered spotted owls that have been exposed to the chemical, along with 6 endangered Pacific Fisher mammals who have died consuming the pesticide.

(See more marijuana facts and statistics from around the world.)

Source:  Elyce Kirchner, Julie Putnam, and Jeremy Carroll, “Poisoned Parks: Illegal Marijuana Growers Leave National Parks Trashed, Animals Dead,” NBC Bay Area, November 1, 2013.

Research conducted by the University of Michigan found that one in 10 young teenagers who visited the emergency room in Michigan abused prescription pain killers in 2012.

10.4 percent of the 2,100 teens who entered the emergency room at the University of Michigan Medical Center abused a prescription drug.

8.7 percent abused prescription opioid such as Oxycontin, methadone or hydrocodone. 85 percent of these teens did not have a prescription for the painkiller.

5.4 percent of teens abused sedatives such as Ativan, Xanax or Valium. 88 percent of these teens did not have a prescription for the sedative.

In August, the medical journal The Lancet stated that painkiller addictions in the United States is the worst drug epidemic in the country’s history.

Source:  Marisa Taylor, “Study: 10 percent of teens in the ER abuse prescription drugs,” Al Jazeera America, October 30, 2013.

According to the 2013 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Saudi Arabia accounted for 30 percent of amphetamine seized by government security agencies during the year. The country has 1 percent of the world’s population.

The majority of the amphetamine that is taken in the county is in Captagon tablets. The tablets are the trade name for fenethyline, and were previously used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder before it was banned.

(Methamphetamine facts and statistics.)

In 2012, criminal justice programs in Saudi Arabia reported seizing nearly 70 million tablets within the country. Security experts believe that the amount seized represents 10 percent of the total number of tablets trafficked within the Kingdom.

It was previously reported that one Captagon tablet sells for $20 in Saudi Arabia. The pill is produced for pennies in factories in Lebanon.

(Price of meth around the world.)

Source:  Aryn Baker, “Conservative Saudi Arabia Is Becoming a Hotbed for Amphetamines,” Time, October 29, 2013.

Public health programs and agencies in Canada have estimated that there have been 3,757 deaths from overdoses on opioids in Ontario, Canada between 2002 to 2011.

(More overdose statistics from prescription drug abuse.)

Between 2009 and 2011,  oxycodone was linked to 491 overdose deaths and fentanyl was lined to 253 deaths.

A drug dealer in Ottawa stated in a media interview that he sells patches of fentanyl for $80 to $240 for a single “one hundred” patch on the black market.

(How much does heroin cost on the black market?)

Source:  “Drug dealer explains lure and risk of fentanyl abuse,” CBC News, October 29, 2013.

Capsules filled with the remains of dead human fetuses are being smuggled into South Korea from China, according to the Korea Customs Service. The pills are advertised as a stamina enhancement drug and are in high demand despite public health programs explaining that the pills are filled with bacteria and could cause serious health problems when taken.

The first reports of these human flesh pills were reported in South Korea in August 2011. From August 2011 to August 2012, security officials stopped 94 smuggling attempts that were attempting to bring in pills from China. Nearly 43,600 human flesh pills were seized in those incidents.

In the first eight months of 2013, the Korea Customs Service seized capsules in 25 smuggling attempts.

Smugglers attempt to avoid Customs by smuggling the pills in Chinese tourists luggage, in mobile phones, and are even using the postal service. One case in June involved the pills being mailed from the United States.

Source:  Yonhap, “Smuggling of human flesh pills continues despite intensified crackdown: data,” Global Post, October 28, 2013.