Today, June 26th, we observe the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also known as World Drug Day. This year’s theme, “The evidence is clear: Invest in prevention,” emphasizes the need for drug policies rooted in science, respect for human rights, compassion, and comprehensive understanding of the social and health impacts of drug use. Take a moment and listen to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director, Ghada Waly, message for World Drug Day.

With its work to fight crime and drugs while bringing nations together, the UNODC reminds all that the “right to health is an internationally recognized human right to all human beings, regardless of a person’s drug use, or whether they are imprisoned, detained, or incarcerated”. Read here the UNODC call to prevention.

Access the campaign materials through the following links and use the hashtags on social to spread the word:

Coinciding with World Drug Day is release of the 2024 World Drug Report which gives a global overview of global drug markets, trends, and policy development. The 2024 edition finds that the number of people using illicit drugs increased to 292 million, reflecting a 20% rise over the past decade. Of these:

  • 228 million consumed marijuana
  • 60 million used opioids
  • 30 million used amphetamines
  • 23 million used cocaine
  • 20 million used ecstasy

 Approximately 64 million people worldwide experienced drug use disorders, yet only a fraction, 1 in 11, received treatment. Women faced greater barriers with only 1 in 18 receiving treatment, compared to 1 in 7 men.

 Other highlights include:

Emerging threats from Nitazenes: There was an increase in overdose deaths connected to the emergence of Nitazenes, a dangerous synthetic opioid stronger than fentanyl, primarily in high-income countries.

Global impact of cocaine production: In 2022, global cocaine production increased by 20% from the previous year. The surge in supply and demand fueled heightened violence in countries along the supply chain, particularly in Ecuador and Caribbean nations. In Europe, there was a rise in health issues associated with cocaine.

Marijuana legalization: The legalization of marijuana in Canada, Uruguay, and 27 United States jurisdictions has led to an increase in the consumption of high potency THC products and contributed to an uptick in attempted suicides, hospitalizations, and psychotic disorders.

Psychedelic “renaissance”: The growing interest in psychedelics presents a threat to mental health disorders. This renewed interest has facilitated their access and commercial interest. This rapid growth and normalization risk outpacing scientific evidence and current medical guidelines, compromising public health goals.

The Golden Triangle: Myanmar, Thailand, and Lao People’s Republic: Drug traffickers in southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle have diversified their markets to include financial fraud, illegal resource extraction, and wildlife trafficking, which involves the illegal capture and transportation of endangered species. This instability has forced displaced communities to turn to opium farming and use, perpetuating a harmful cycle. Additionally, the absence of safe farming practices has led to rapid environmental deterioration exacerbated by illegal chemical dumping and deforestation.

The ban in Afghanistan: Afghanistan experienced a 95% decrease in opium production, while Myanmar saw a 36% increase. This drastic reduction in Afghanistan’s opiate market impoverished farmers while enriching traffickers. Long-term effects of this shift may include increase demand for opiate treatment services in countries where Afghan opiates are trafficked to and consumed, changes in heroin purity, and a shift to the use of other opioids