An estimated 296 million people worldwide are drug users, according to the most recent U.N. World Drug Report. The report warns about the rising use of opioids, which account for 80 percent of drug-related deaths. In their synthetic form, opioids can be manufactured anywhere, independent of soil and climatic conditions. Marketing and distribution have also become easier thanks to the internet and related technologies. And drug cocktails are becoming more common, attracting new users but posing greater health risks.
This year’s U.N. report also highlights links between drug use and other social issues. For example, an entire chapter is dedicated to the environmental impact cocaine and other drugs have on the Amazon Basin. The report also links drugs to deforestation, logging, mining and water pollution.