Drug abuse is a global epidemic that is often accompanied by corruption and abuse. As the problem expands, especially with narcotics, world leaders are called upon to address drug abuse and find solutions. Pope Francis has requested a study session at the Vatican with leading experts around the world to examine drug abuse and prevention. Through this study session, members will look at the history of abuse, how substances are produced and distributed, and how to prevent abuse, particularly among children and young adults in order to start fighting drug addiction. The group will focus specifically on narcotics and opiates, including heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine, which are some of the most problematic substances in the United States today.
Leading professionals, scientists, experts, medical doctors, practitioners, judges, and other civic professionals will focus on scientific aspects of substance abuse, including the effects of both hard and soft drugs on the human body, as well as potential medical uses for certain drugs. With globalization, drugs can be found in any part of the world, and it takes an enormous effort to counteract drug trafficking and production.
Countries with Addiction Problems
While the United States’ growing problem with prescription drug abuse and heroin is well noted, it is not the only country with substance abuse problems. Virtually every country in the world has some form of a substance abuse problem. About 230 million people across the globe have used an illicit substance at least once in their lives, and an estimated 27 million people are classified as problem drug users. While different countries are plagued with different types of substance abuse, there are many in which drug abuse has become an epidemic, and many are struggling to finds ways to address the growing problem.
- Iran: Over the past 10 years, Iran has seen a dramatic increase in heroin abuse. Some officials believe that up to five million Iranians are drug addicts while millions more are frequent users. In order to address the growing epidemic, law enforcement has worked diligently funnel resources towards prevention, treatment, and harm-reduction programs. With recent changes in political power, the way in which substance abuse is being addressed has shifted, and in some cases, the full extent of the epidemic is downplayed; however, steps have been taken to address these dangerous patterns.
- Afghanistan: Afghanistan produces more opium than any other country in the world. Opium is used to produce heroin, and some surveys suggest that nearly 90 percent of heroin found in Europe can be linked to Afghanistan. It is estimated that nearly one million people in the country struggle with addiction, but the 95 addiction treatment facilities throughout the country can only treat about 2,305 people. The budget for treating addiction is incredibly low: at approximately 2.2 million dollars per year, this equates to about two dollars per person per year.
- Russia: It is not uncommon to see Russia portrayed as a country that struggles with excessive alcohol consumption, particularly vodka, and this stereotype is somewhat based in reality. A recent study showed that about 25 percent of Russian men die before the age of 55, and this is largely due to alcohol abuse. The country is no stranger to high rates of abuse with an estimated 2.5 million Russians addicted to drugs, and about 90 percent of those using heroin. A new, horrific drug called “krokodil” was born here and is often linked with the “zombie apocalypse” due to its horrifying side effects.
- Great Britain: A report published in 2013 stated that England was the “addiction capital of Europe” with substance abuse costing the country about 57 billion dollars annually. The most commonly abused substance in the country is alcohol, with an estimated 1.6 million people being dependent on it.
- France: Research shows that one in every three French citizens has used prescription drugs in one way or another. The French have a long-standing reputation of being heavy prescription medication consumers, especially anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicines. It is estimated that 32 percent of France’s population regularly uses some form of medication to deal with psychiatric disorders. This is partly due to the country’s high rate of depression as well as doctors’ tendency to overprescribe throughout the country.
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