LONDON (AP):Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug used worldwide, but addictions to popular painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin and codeine kill the most people, according to the first-ever global survey of illicit drug abuse.
In addition to cannabis and opioid painkillers, scientists analysed abuse of cocaine and amphetamines in 2010, largely based on previous studies. Ecstasy and hallucinogens weren't included, because there weren't enough data. The researchers found that for all the drugs studied, men in their 20s had the highest rates of abuse. The worst-hit countries were Australia, Britain, Russia and the United States.
But there were few concrete numbers to rely on and researchers used modelling techniques to come up with their estimates.
"Even if it is not very solid data, we can say definitely that there are drug problems in most parts of the world," said Theo Vos, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the study's senior author. Vos said people tended to abuse drugs produced close to home: cocaine in North America, amphetamines and opioids in Asia and Australia. The lowest rates of drug abuse were in Asia and Africa. Of the estimated 78,000 deaths in 2010 because of illegal drug use, more than half were because of painkiller addictions.