Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘War on Drugs

World’s Top 20 Drugs?

Posted this May 28, 2014 (selected as one of top posts)

At the end of last year, Dr Adam Winstock conducted the 2014 Global Drug Survey.

It is the largest ever global medical survey of drug use.

dr adam winstockGovernment drug policy should not be caught up in a polarized debate about legalization .

Drug policy should consider crafting a public health policy that optimizes the health and well-being of all its citizens.

The first step is to treat people who [use] drugs as rational adults who wish to be informed and have a strong desire to preserve their health and happiness and contribute to their society as much as the person next to them.

If changing drug laws reduces societal harms and promotes health among those who [use] drugs and leads to a happier, more productive society with less discrimination and compounded deprivation of the most vulnerable then surely change is worth considering with objectivity and evidence.

Any other outcome would appear to be made by someone who was off their head on drugs!

Dr Adam R Winstock MD MRCP MRCPsych FAChAM
Consultant Psychiatrist and Addiction Medicine Specialist
Founder and Director of Global Drug Survey

More than 20% of people in the UK and about 15% in the US have purchased drugs over the Internet in the last year.

The Silk Road is gaining momentum – could they stop it even if they wanted to? It looks like the War on Drugs has not done anything to prevent or even reduce global drug use.

Download the full report here (PDF).

These Are The Top 20 Drugs Consumed In Australia

last-12-months-drug-prevalence 2014


 photo top20drugsworld_zps681943e1.jpg

 photo drugsonnetaustralia_zps6b487ed2.jpg photo drugsonnet_zps20146e0c.jpg

 

Here are some highlights of their findings:

The 2014 Global Drug Survey (GDS2014) conducted during November / December 2013 was the biggest survey of current drug use ever conducted.

Published in 8 languages and promoted through media partners in 17 countries, it received almost 80,000 responses…countries included USA, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Mexico, Slovenia and Brazil.

Spongebob_drugsThe self-nominating sample were typically in their in 20s and 30s, well-educated, and about 50% went clubbing at least 4 times a year.

They tended to have higher lifetime prevalence of illicit drug use (over 85%) than the general population and one suspects a greater interest in the topic, but only about 60% had used an illicit drug in the last year, most typically cannabis.

Whilst alcohol, tobacco and cannabis remained the most common drugs used within the last year, with cocaine, amphetamine in its various forms and MDMA frequently just behind them, countries showed marked variation in the use of other drugs.

The increasing uptake of other preparations nicotine containing products namely shishas tobacco and electronic cigarettes demonstrate the pervasive presence of diverse nicotine based products in our culture.

The high rates of caffeine energy drinks, caffeine tablets (and in some countries like Germany even intranasal caffeine) demonstrate the market for this legal stimulant is as strong as ever.

Prescribed and non-prescribed psychoactive medication particular opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines were frequently in the top 10 drugs used by GDS populations in the last year, with their use, non-medical and problematic use being particularly high in the USA and New Zealand being dominant forces. Other medications that crossed over into the recreational drug scene such as GHB, methyphenidate (Ritalin) and ketamine were more sporadically distributed.

Drugs prices varied widely – the average price of gram of high potency cannabis being 12 euros but varied almost fourfold from 6 euros in Spain to over 20 in Ireland.

Cocaine remained the most expensive drug at mean global single gram purchase price of 100 euros / gram (ranging in price from 50 in parts of Europe to over 250 in NZ, which also had the most expensive MDMA as well).

Regardless of price, cocaine was voted the worst value for money drug in the world, with a mean score of 3.4/10. MDMA was voted the best value for money drug in the world.

The Belgians were the most satisfied with their cocaine with a mean rating of 5.5/10 and the Australians the least with rating of 2.2.

The use of ‘research chemicals and legal highs (including substances sold as bath salts, and synthetic cannabis products) varied widely between countries. The biggest users were those in USA with over one in 5 having used one of these compounds in the last year.

The worst drug of them all is still the most readily available one: alcohol.

Alcohol remained the biggest cause of concern among friends and the biggest culprit in sending people to Emergency Department.

The percentage of last year drinkers who had sought emergency again varied widely from an average of just 1%, to 0.7% in France to over 2% in Ireland.

Awareness of national drinking guidelines was universally poor with over 40% of drinkers being unsure of their countries drinking guidelines.

The Germans were most clueless with 65% being unsure of them, the Danes the best informed with only 8% reporting they did not know them (that did not stop 1.5% of last year’s Danish drinker seeking emergency medical treatment following drinking last year).

war on drugsThe rates of seeking emergency medical treatment for other drugs other than alcohol varied widely.

Further research is required to determine the factors that underlie the 3 fold difference in seeking emergency medical treatment (EMT) following the use of MDMA between Switzerland with the lowest rate of seeking EMT (03% of last year users) and the USA, The Republic of Ireland and France (09.1-1%).

MDMA in Switzerland leads to far fewer hospitalizations than in the US. Just because it’s called “Molly“, doesn’t mean you know what’s in it kiddies – be careful.

2013 saw more press coverage about ecstasy related deaths in the UK than there had been for years. Was it PMA? Was it bad ventilation and dehydration?

Was it deaths to weird and wonderful novel psychoactive drugs (aka legal highs)? …rarely was PMA the only thing taken, with MDMA and alcohol usually being present…almost 3 fold increase in those seeking EMT following the use of MDMA in the UK (from 0.3% in GDS2013 to 0.8% in GDS2014)…Twice as many people reported taking powder than pills, over half has also used alcohol. 

They likes their medicine green in the good ‘ole US of A:

cartoon camper caravanOur huge study of over 38,000 cannabis users showed that the USA was home to safest smokers – with only 7% choosing to smoke cannabis with tobacco followed by NZ (25%) , compared to over 80% of smokers in most other countries.

Although the most sensible cannabis smokers, the USA was the worst place to get caught with cannabis with over 17% reporting that it impacted on their education, employment, and travel…among all illegal drugs, cannabis was the drug that most people wanted to use less of and help with in reducing their use.

This confirms that for some users (perhaps 10-20%) cannabis can be associated with problems. For many dependent users, withdrawal on stopping will also be an issue with sleep disturbance, weird dreams, irritability, restlessness and craving being the major problems.

A third of respondents had been to work with a hangover, and a sixth had been there while coming down from drugs. Ireland was “worst” (or best, depending on your perspective), with 50% going to work with hangovers.

pacman hangoverTurning up to work hung over or coming down from the effects of drugs was common among the GDS2014 sample, with over one third of those in work reporting going to work hung-over – but less than half of that number reporting going work coming down from drugs.

The highest rates of turning up to work hung-over in the last 12 months was the Republic of Ireland (50%) followed by the UK and Hungary (46%).

The lowest rates were reported in the USA and Portugal (both less than 25%). The highest rates of turning up to work coming down from the effects of drugs was in the Netherlands (25%), the UK and the Republic of Ireland (both over 20%). The lowest rates were reported in New Zealand (less than 8%)

People reported a neutral to positive effect from pursuing harm reduction strategies.

Safer drug use is more enjoyable drug use. Adopting safer drug using practices can reduce drug related risk. The full list of strategies adopted and rated by almost 80,000 drugs users from across the world on 8 of the most commonly use drugs have been published as a collection of guides known as the High-way Code

Such a guide – with strategies put forward but drug users and other drug experts has the potential to save lives, reduce emergency medical service utilization and promote healthier less harmful drug use.

So there you go – read the High-way Code and be a more responsible drug user, even especially if your drug of choice is alcohol or tobacco.

The report makes a strong case for governments to treat addiction as a medical issue:

The overwhelming finding across countries was not that a reduction in criminal penalties would encourage [hordes] of non-drug users to try drugs or for current drug users to increase their use.

Instead it was that people who use drugs would be more open with their family and friends about their use and more likely to seek help or advice about the use and associated health

Is Iran the West Stalwart Ally in War on Drugs?

Iran may be the most efficient State in combating the trafficking of drugs, but the USA is still the primary country consuming drugs.

Without the heavy consumption in the US market for all kinds of drugs, the cartels will be in a bad shape and revenue will drastically dwindle.

Sitting next to the half-open door of a Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter, the general who leads the Islamic Republic’s antinarcotics department pointed toward the rugged landscape of Iran’s volatile southeast, where its border meets those of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Abedin Taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency

Iranian border guards displayed packets of seized drugs near the border with Afghanistan.

 published on Oct.11, 2012 in the HIRMAN JOURNAL:

HIRMAN, Iran —

“This is where the drug convoys for years crossed into our country, almost with impunity,” Brig. Gen. Ali Moayedi said in Persian. Below him, sharp-edged mountains gave way to desert lands scarred for mile after mile by trenches nearly 15 feet deep and concrete walls reaching a height of 10 feet.

The earthworks were built by his men in recent years in a determined effort to stop the most prolific flow of drugs in the world, a flood of heroin and opium bound for the Persian Gulf and Europe.

Iran, as the first link in that long and lucrative smuggling chain, has for decades fought a lonely battle against drugs that its leaders see as religiously inspired, saying it is their Islamic duty to prevent drug abuse.

Nearly a decade ago Sistan va Baluchestan Province was an active battlefield, where more than 3,900 Iranian border police officers lost their lives fighting often better-equipped Afghan and Pakistani drug gangs along nearly 600 miles of Iran’s eastern border.

In those days, smugglers with night-vision equipment would roll over the border in all-terrain vehicles with heavy weapons, actively engaging Iranian law enforcement forces wherever they found them. Security forces were at times dying by the dozen each day.

Now, the country has made a huge turnaround. Its forces are seizing the highest amounts of opiates and heroin worldwide, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which has advised Iran through out the period.

Tehran has long been shy about inviting reporters to these borderlands, particularly during the difficult years when the police were dying in droves. But now, with the prospect of negotiations with the West over Iran’s disputed nuclear enrichment program, experts say, Iran’s leaders are eager to grab credit for their efforts.

During previous negotiations Iranian diplomats often pointed at Iran’s high human costs from trying to stop the drug trade, and one influential political adviser, Hamid Reza Taraghi, said that Iran expected to be politically “rewarded” for its efforts.

Up in the air, General Moayedi pointed to the Pakistani-Afghan side of the border, which he said once crawled with smugglers. “Do you see?” he exclaimed, pointing through one of the round windows of the helicopter. “There is nothing there!”

White watchtowers stood like chess pieces at mile intervals along the Iranian side of the border, facing the complete emptiness of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The smugglers still can come all the way to Iran; nobody stops them on their side,” Mr. Moayedi said as his aviator sunglasses reflected the intense sun. “But we have made it nearly impossible for them to enter our country.”

Squeezed between a tall plainclothes officer and General Moayedi’s personal bodyguard, Antonino de Leo, the Italian representative for the United Nations drug office in Tehran, showered the Iranians with praise — “because they really deserve it,” he said.

Mr. De Leo, in mountaineering shoes and backpack but remaining true to his stylish Italian background with a white flannel scarf around his neck, is very different from his uniformed Iranian counterparts. But, he said, “I need these people and they need me.”

At the same time that the Iranians were netting eight times more opium and three times more heroin than all the other countries in the world combined, Mr. De Leo said, his office was the smallest in the region and he had to cut back some programs, like drug sniffer dog training, because Western nations had cut back on financing.

“These men are fighting their version of the Colombian war on drugs, but they are not funded with billions of U.S. dollars and are battling against drugs coming from another country,” Mr. De Leo said.

While his colleagues in Afghanistan received $40 million a year in direct aid for counternarcotics programs, he said, they treated 100 addicts last year while Iran was treating hundreds of thousands. His budget was barely $13 million stretched over four years. “It’s all politics,” he said.

When the helicopter landed here at a fort in this desolate landscape it was too close to a party tent, blowing off its roof and setting off panic among the soldiers who had spent four days preparing for the V.I.P. visit.

Zahra, the 11-year-old daughter of one of the 3,900 policemen killed on border duty, welcomed the general, saying she missed her father but was happy that he was with God. Her mother, dressed in a black chador, nodded approvingly.

Armed soldiers stood guard as General Moayedi and Mr. De Leo inspected intercepted packages of opium, heroin and morphine. “There are 100,000 NATO troops based in Afghanistan,” the general said. “Why are they not stopping the flow of drugs into our country?

He gestured at the latest models of pickup trucks, used to patrol the long straight roads along the fortified walls, and said Iran could easily fend for itself. “But as others sleep comfortably in other countries, my men are here during the hot desert days and cold nights, trying to intercept drugs that would otherwise end up in the West. We are making a sacrifice.”

Mr. De Leo, who is one of the very few Westerners in Iran in direct, daily contact with top law enforcement officials, said his office was under pressure from Western activist groups like Human Rights Watch, which have expressed alarm over the sharp increase in hangings of convicted drug dealers.

Hundreds have been executed in recent years, making Iran the second leading country in the world in death sentences, after China. Mr. De Leo said that he, too, was bothered by the increase in executions, but that the punishments were meted out by Iran’s judiciary, not by its police force.

And though Iran routinely puts drug dealers to death, it also has a range of modern drug rehabilitation programs for its hard-core addicts, who number 1.2 million by official count. The addicts are treated as patients and given methadone and other treatments rather than prison sentences, Iranian families of addicts and foreign diplomats say.

General Moayedi said that he did not concern himself with politics, and that in any case he considered the fight against drugs to be a religious duty.

“But,” he said, “imagine if we just let all those drugs flow freely through our country, toward the West. I guess then the world would understand what we have been doing here for all these years.”


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