Pandemic alters drug trafficking methods, routes
Restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have forced innovation across sectors, including the global drug market, which has turned to new routes, trafficking methods and illegal substances, the UN warned in a report published Thursday
Vienna: Restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic have forced innovation across sectors, including the global drug market, which has turned to new routes, trafficking methods and illegal substances, the UN warned in a report published Thursday.
The latest World Drug Report presents an increasingly complex situation with the use of traditional drugs like cocaine, heroin and cannabis at an all-time high as well as the proliferation of synthetic substances, reports Efe news.
"Due to COVID-19, traffickers may have to find new routes and methods, and trafficking activities via the darknet and shipments by mail may increase, despite the international postal supply chain being disrupted," the report said.
"The pandemic has also led to opioid shortages, which, in turn, may result in people seeking out more readily available substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines or mixing with synthetic drugs. More harmful patterns of use may emerge as some users switch to injecting, or more frequent injecting."
According to Ghada Waly, Executive Director for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, there are more people using drugs, more substances and more types of narcotics than ever.
The drug market is becoming increasingly complex, with the use of plant-based substances like cannabis, cocaine and heroin as well as hundreds of synthetic drugs, many beyond international control, rising, the report said.
The UN has also registered a spike in the use of pharmaceutical drugs, in some cases counterfeits, for recreational purposes and without medical supervision, something that has caused tens of thousands of deaths in the US in recent years.
There were some 269 million drug users in the world in 2018, which amounts to 5.4 per cent of the world's adult population, one out of every 19 people on the planet, the report said.
The figure is 30 per cent higher than in 2009, with more than 35 million people suffering from serious drug addiction disorders.
Experts believe 585,000 people will die from drug use, a figure mirrored in last year's report on narcotics use in 2017.
Cannabis is still the most popular drug in the world with 192 million users, but opioids, like heroin and its analogues, are the most lethal and are behind two-thirds of deaths.
In the last decade, drug use has grown at a much faster rate in developing countries than in the industrialised world.