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Thursday, June 4, 2015

First-Ever Report on Worldwide Addiction Statistics

Around the world people use drugs (both illegal and legal) and alcohol, but there has never been comprehensive report conducted on how much addictive substances are abused. A team of researchers in Australia analyzed worldwide data to develop the first-ever report on worldwide addiction statistics, NPR reports. The goal was to develop a baseline of drug and alcohol use, and to draw out comparisons of use among the different world regions.

The authors point out that they could only pool data from U.N. member states, but, lead author Dr. Linda Gowing, a professor at the University of Adelaide's School of Medical Sciences, says "we thought it would be extremely useful, and a good start, to have it all in one place." Compiling data on illegal drug use was the most difficult, simply due to the fact that such use is often done away from the public eye.

The researchers' analysis indicated that there are about 240 million people worldwide that are dependent on alcohol and more than a billion people smoke tobacco (20 percent of all humans). The report showed that around 15 million people use drugs via injection - like heroin. The numbers were drawn from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, according to the article.

The study indicates that alcohol has a greater impact on society than tobacco use. Alcohol takes a greater toll on “productive years of life lost,” said Gowing. Alcohol impacts work and relationships, and reduces quality of life. People who abuse alcohol die younger, and have poor health over a longer period of time. The report showed that people in Eastern Europe consume the most alcohol, and that people in Asia drink the least.

“One thing that stands out is countries that are predominantly Muslim have a much lower rate of alcohol consumption,” Gowing said.

The findings were published in the journal Addiction.

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