ARTICLE OVERVIEW: This article aims to identify the top 11 countries with the biggest drug issue and discover precisely why these countries are in this position. Through this, we can better educate ourselves and our communities in order to create a drug-free environment. We invite you to ask your questions or share your comments at the end.
ESTIMATED READING TIME: Less than 10 minutes.
Table of Contents:
- How Do You Identify a Country’s Drug Problem?
- #11 – Australia
- #10 – Canada
- #9 – Mexico
- #8 – Brazil
- #7 – United States
- #6 – Afghanistan
- #5 – Russia
- #4 – Slovakia
- #3 – France
- #2 – United Kingdom
- #1 – Iran
- Your Questions
How Do You Identify a Country’s Drug Problem?
The short answer is you look at the country’s percentage for per capita use. This means you seek out how many people are using drugs for each person, taken on an individual basis. For example, in Austrailia, 3% of adults use opioid prescriptions – which can be equated to 3% per capita.
However, in order to properly make a list, we must also factor in the amount of responsibility each country takes in their drug problem. Are they pushing efforts for effective treatment? Are they making a productive attempt to fix the problem and have shown positive results? This is important because though one country might have a bad drug problem now, they could fix their problem in the foreseeable future.
With that in mind, you might be curious as to what the most commonly abused drugs are across the world. They are as followed:
- Anabolic steroids
- Cannabis (both medical and recreational)
- Hallucinogens (such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms)
- MDMA (molly or ecstasy)
- Prescription medication
- Synthetic cannabis
When measuring the top countries with the biggest drug problems, it’s important to factor in every drug available rather than a select class. However, each of the following countries has one particular drug they are renowned for abusing. With that in mind, we’ll be taking a look at the most prominently abused drug within these countries as well as referencing statistics to other drugs.
#11 – Australia
Furthermore, the 2012 United Nations Drug Report found Australia to have one of the highest global prevalence of cannabis use which has increased in recent decades. Luckily, the use of other drugs, such as MDMA has made a decline.
This is primarily because the Australian government is creating a number of policies in response to the illicit drug use. The biggest enactment was released in the 1980s and is known as “harm minimisation”. Still in effect today, the following are what the policy makers continue to work towards:
- Reducing supply-demand. The end goal is to lower overall demand for illicit and, therefore, protect communities.
- Creating border security via attention to customs controls. Further, the government targets and strictly prosecutes people involved in illicit drug trafficking to help reduce illicit drug supply within the country.
- Promoting treatment of current users and drug-free abstinence.
- There are also programs involved in providing clean needle and syringes within a controlled location for the sake of preventing the spread of diseases.
It should be noted that there are other countries on this list which also follow a “harm minimisation” strategy and these will be referenced throughout the article.
#10 – Canada
For one, their most abused drug is cannabis and, compared to prescription opioids, it’s not very harmful. Still, marijuana has takes a strong hold of Canada. In 2011, it was reported that within the province of British Columbia, around 44.3% of B.C. residents had used cannabis at one point or another. This number has dropped in recent years, but there’s no doubt marijuana still has a prevalence within the country. Especially since it’s been legalized nationwide.
Secondly, Canada provides a universal healthcare system and, through that, residents who are addicted to drugs have the ability to enter a proper treatment facility despite a lack of economic success. Therefore, Canada provides the opportunity for everyone to live drug-free. Though not everyone takes the opportunity of this privilege, there’s no denying how many can and already have benefited from this.
#9 – Mexico
As of the time of writing, methamphetamines are the leading problem within Mexico, with about 3.9% per capita use. This number seems to continuously rise. Between the years 2010 to 2011, methamphetamine seizures had increased by 73%.
Though meth is a major problem of Mexico, there are larger problems at hand when looking into the Drug War. The Mexican government, particularly President Enrique Peña Nieto, is currently fighting against the cartels and, inevitably, sparking a large amount of violence. To get a scope of how big an issue this has become, 12,903 people died due to drug-related violence in the first three-quarters of 2011.
All the fighting is for a $29 billion annual market in which the United States is the only buyer.
#8 – Brazil
- Calcium oxide
- Cocaine paste
Brazil has reported 4.9% Oxi use per capita. The reason for its popularity is due to the fact that it’s cheaper than cocaine and much more powerful. It is also much more addictive. Likewise, crack cocaine use in Brazil has also been seeing an accelaration in use since the late 1980’s.
However, similar to Mexico, Brazil has faced problems with drug trafficking for decades now – especially in poverty stricken areas such as favelas. In turn, this is allowing for drugs like crack and oxi to spread widely throughout the major cities.
#7 – United States
- Pills for chronic conditions (i.e. heart complications)
With so many prescriptions so leniently handed to the public, doctors are prime suspects and current drug pushers. Through this, people end up going to other sources to fill in their cravings as either:
1. Prescriptions run out and doctors won’t re-prescribe.
2. They’ve built a tolerance to their prescription and need more to feel the initial effects.
In turn, this is only making the illicit drug problem more powerful and fueling the drug trafficking in places like Mexico. It’s estimated that prescription use amongst Americans is 6.2% per capita and the unfortunate truth is, that number continues to slowly rise. Another issue this is fueling is the opioid epidemic.
#6 – Afghanistan
However, though Afghanistan’s heroin problem is dangerous, the reason they’re so high on the list is because of the lack of access Afghans have to proper treatment. When considering this with the amount of war that’s been going on in the country and the trauma that comes along with it, it’s understandable that people continue to take it despite the negative consequences heroin comes with.
#5 – Russia
- Alcohol poisoning
- Liver disease
The biggest problem is that the country has made a lifestyle out of consuming alcohol. It’s considered normal to drink large amounts of it on a regular basis.
#4 – Slovakia
The danger in Slovakia’s inhalant use has to do with the amount of deaths attached to it. In fact, many experience fatal consequence after just using the drug for the first time. Therefore, those who use over a period of time not only risk death but also major health issues.
#3 – France
#2 – United Kingdom
It’s estimated around 1.6 million people within the country have developed a dependence on alcohol and a small portion of those will access treatment. The problem doesn’t have to do with England’s healthcare system. Rather, it’s a complication of social acceptance.
It’s also been found that around 52% of men in the United Kingdom binge drink at least once a week along with 53% of women. The prime issue here has to do with the culture and, in order to fix the problem, England must undergo a change in culture.
#1 – Iran
The first has to do with easy access. Being so close to Afghanistan, the number one producer of opium, Iran has been able to obtain heroin with little problem. The second has to do with the country’s economic status. Since there’s little money within the government as is, little has gone towards keeping their citizens off drugs and offering treatment to those already on them.
Iran has recently created a better border control system which has, in fact, reduced trafficking of heroin into the country. Therefore, the drug has become harder to obtain and people have been taking it less. However, this isn’t enough to keep Iran from having the worst drug problem and, in order to change the country’s status, much more effort must come.
If you have any remaining questions about countries with significant drug issues or are looking for advice on drug addiction treatment, we invite you to ask them in the comments section below.
If you have any further information on this topic or advice to give to people struggling with addiction, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to reply to each comment promptly and personally.