How Rampant Is Illegal Drug Use?

About 250 million people worldwide use illegal drugs, though only about 10 percent are considered dependent users. The United States is the world's biggest consumer of drugs, even though it has spent more than $1 trillion US Dollars on the "war on drugs" and has some of the strictest drug laws in the world.

More facts about illegal drug use:

  • Cannabis is the world's most widely used drug. It is grown in virtually every country and is smoked at least once by 130 million to 200 million people a year.

  • Opiates usage went up by about 35 percent between 1998 and 2008. Cocaine and cannabis usage increased by about 30 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

  • Almost 35,000 people were killed in Mexico's war on drugs between 2006 and 2010.

  • The main factors that affect a person's drug use are peer influences and their socioeconomic background. The legality of a drug or government prevention messages have been shown to have a very small effect.
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