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.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) consume 70 percent of all the heroin that is abused in the East Asia and Pacific Region.

Up to 65 tonnes of heroin is used by addicts in China each year. In order to meet the demand, 90 percent of all heroin that is produced in the Golden Triangle (Laos, Myanmar and Thailand) is trafficked to China. Laos has also begun increasing its opium production, with an increase of 66 percent of opium farming taking place in the country in 2011.

Criminal justice and public health programs in China have officially registered 1.2 million heroin addicts in the country.

(Price of heroin by country.)

Source:  David Elmer, “It’s happy hour for the heroin traffickers of the Golden Triangle,” South China Morning Post, September 26, 2013.

In 2012, citizens in the US sate of Washington voted to legalize marijuana.

In order to determine the amount of licenses needed to produce pot, state officials estimate that 80 million marijuana joints would be used each year.  The estimated number of users in the state is roughly calculated to be 650,000 adults. Thus, an average pot user in the state of Washington consumes 123 joints each year, or one joint every three days.

(Marijuana prices by country.)

Despite the legal market, state officials estimate that the regulated market will capture about 25 percent of the total marijuana market in the state, leaving 75 percent of sales still taking place on the black market.

(See additional facts about marijuana.)

Source:  Bob Young, “Average pot user consumes 123 joints per year, state estimates,” Seattle Times, September 24, 2013.

According to a report by Radio Free Asia, the price of a gram of methamphetamine in North Korea is $11 (70 Chinese Yuan).

(More prices of meth from around the world.)

Due to the high cost for residents of North Korea, up to 20 people share one gram and consume the drug together.

It was previously reported that up to 40 to 50 percent of the residents near the border of China were addicted to meth.

(More facts about meth addiction and trafficking.)

Source:  Sung Hui Moon, “‘Ice’ Use Spreads, Worsening North Korea’s Drug Addiction Problem,” Radio Free Asia, September 19, 2013.

In 2010, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration conducted raids targeting marijuana operations at 2,272 sites. In these raids, the DEA arrested 1.591 people confiscated 59,928 pounds of marijuana, and pulled 7.4 million marijuana plants.

In 2012, the DEA conducted raids at 1,784 sites and pulled 2.08 marijuana plants. However, they arrested 2,045 people and confiscated 64,920 pounds of pot.

(Pot prices by country.)

Source:  Robin Wilkey, “DEA Marijuana Raids Plummet, But Not For The Reason You Might Think,” Huffington Post, September 18, 2013.

Security personnel in Qatar arrested 50 drug smugglers entering the country in 2012. Customs officials in the country cliam that they are able to catch 90 pecent of the drug smugglers attempting to enter the country.

A kilogram of cocaine can be sold for up to $90,000 in the Middle East, a value that is 3 times higher than the rate in the United States.

(More cocaine prices by country.)

75 percent of the cocaine seized in the Middle East region was shipped from Brazil.

Source:  Charles Parkinson, “Persian Gulf is Growing Drug Hub For LatAm Groups,” Insight Crime, September 17, 2013.


In 2012, there were 548,003 inmates in the prisons of Brazil.

25 percent of the inmates, or 138,198 people, were in prison for drug trafficking charges. The number of prisoners being held for drug trafficking charges increased by 30 percent since 2010.

The average age of a prison in Brazil is 26 years old.

Source:  Danielle Melo, “Brazil: More drug traffickers behind bars,” Infosurhoy, September 16, 2013.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were an estimated 1,552,432 arrests across the United States for drug-related crimes in 2012.  The number of arrests were slightly higher than the 1,531,251 arrests in 2011.

Arrests involving marijuana accounted for 48.3 percent of all drug arrests in the United States in 2012. According to the FBI data, there was one marijuana possession arrest every 48 seconds during 2012. If distribution charges are included, there was one marijuana arrest every 42 seconds.

(Cost of Marijuana by country.)

Source:  Steve Nelson, “Police Made One Marijuana Arrest Every 42 Seconds in 2012,” US News and World Report, September 16, 2013.

In 2010 to 2011, the number of people being treated for methamphetamine addiction in Victoria, Australia was reported to be 3,369.

In 2011 to 2013, the number of meth addicts seeking treatment increased to 4,886, an increase of 77 percent.

(More facts about meth addiction.)

The number of ambulance calls related to meth and amphetamines in Victoria also increased. In 2010-2011, there were 282 incidents where ambulances were dispatched for amphetamine-related causes. In 2011-2013, the number of incidents rose to 592.

(How much does meth cost per gram?)

Source:  Julia Medew, “Crystal meth probe as addiction grows,” Age, September 16, 2013.

The Juarez drug cartel in Mexico hired a United States soldier to act as a hit man to kill a confidential informant living in the United States. According to security officials, the drug cartel paid the American soldier $5,000 to kill the informant in El Paso, Texas. The soldier killed the man with 8 rounds.

In a separate incident, two military soldiers stationed in the US state of Colorado plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire when they offered their services to undercover federal agents. Then men thought that they were offering their “wet work” to the Los Zetals cartel. They offered their services for $50,000 and 5 kilograms of cocaine.

(Hitman for hire on the black market.)

Source:  Deborah Hastings, “U.S. soldiers accepting cash, drugs for Mexican drug cartel contract hits,” New York Daily News, September 13, 2013.

Russia’s Counter-Narcotics Agency stated that there are nearly 1,900 organized crime groups and 150 major drug cartels that are trafficking illegal drugs into Russia. These illegal networks operate in Central Asia and use 100,000 drug mules to transport heroin from Afghanistan into Russia.

Intelligence agencies across Russia estimate that there are over 2,000 drug processing laboratories in Northern Afghanistan that produced heroin exclusively for the Russian market.

Nearly 1.5 million people in Russia are addicted to heroin, with roughly 30,000 people dying each year from heroin abuse. Nearly 150,000 people are arrested each year for drug offenses.

(Cost of heroin around the world.)

Source:  “1,900 Gangs Smuggling Afghan Drugs to Russia – Anti-Narcotics Agency,” RIA Novosti, September 13, 2013.