A Global View Of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, And Cocaine Use
Tags: Alcohol cannabis cocaine illegal drug use tobacco
Alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs are responsible for illness and death around the globe. The World Health Organization has estimated that 91 million people are affected by alcohol use disorders and 15 million by drug use disorders. Yet, current world-wide data on the extent and severity of these issues has been lacking. This study is the work of researchers from every continent employing data from the first 17 countries participating in the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative. Eighteen surveys were carried out in 17 countries in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, plus separate surveys in the People’s Republic of China, and New Zealand. All interviews were carried out face-to-face by trained lay interviewers. Participants were asked if they had ever used alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and/or cocaine.
The researchers found that in the Americas, Europe, Japan, and New Zealand, alcohol is used by the vast majority of survey participants, compared to smaller proportions in the Middle East, Africa, and China. The global distribution of illegal drug use is unevenly distributed, with the US having the highest levels of both legal and illegal drug use among all countries surveyed. Reduced levels were observed in lower income countries in Africa and the Middle East and in the Asian locales studied. Globally, drug use was not simply related to drug policy. Countries with stringent illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones. Males were more likely than females to have used all drug types. Younger adults were more likely than older adults to have used any of the drugs. Higher income was related to drug use of all kinds. Marital status was found to be linked to illegal drug use—the use of cocaine and cannabis is more likely in people who have never been married or were previously married. Gender differences were consistently observed but were noted to be decreasing in younger persons who also had higher levels of illegal drug use.
These comprehensive findings on the patterns of drug use in all regions of the world should be useful to government and health organizations in developing more effective policies to combat these problems.
(Degenhardt, L, Chiu, W-T, Sampson, N, Kessler, RC, Anthony, JC, et al. Toward a global view of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. PLoS Medicine 5:1053 – 1067, 2008.
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