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Global drug abuse stabilises: UN

world Updated: Jun 26, 2007 12:49 IST
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The illegal production, trafficking and consumption of drugs worldwide has stayed stable for the first time in decades, a UN agency reported on Tuesday.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in its annual World Drug Report 2007, called the change a remarkable turnaround.

"Recent data shows that the runaway train of drug addiction has slowed down," said Antonio Maria Costa, UNDOC's executive director.

Just a few years ago, the world had appeared to be heading for an epidemic of drug abuse. The report shows global markets for almost all illicit drugs, including cocaine, heroin and cannabis remained largely stable in 2005-06.

But while cocaine consumption had fallen in the US, there had been alarming increases in Europe, the study found.

Demand for amphetamine-type stimulants such as ecstasy had levelled off along with the production and demand for cannabis for the first time in many years.

"The much greater number of pot smokers seeking treatment shows that the new strains of high potency cannabis make people sick, not just high," said Costa.

Opium production in Afghanistan remained a major problem with production increasing dramatically in 2006, said the report. Helmand province was becoming the world's biggest drug supplier.

International drug seizures were up through better policing with seizure of more than 45 per cent of all cocaine produced now and more than 25 per cent of all heroin, compared with 21 per cent and 15 per cent respectively in 1999.

At least one in every 200 people was ruled by addiction to drugs said Costa.

"We cannot take our foot off the brake. Drug prevention and effective health care for addicts remain vital," he said. "Drug addiction is an illness that must and can be prevented and treated."