Home Health Study: 68% of Drug-Related Deaths in 2017 From Opioid Use

Study: 68% of Drug-Related Deaths in 2017 From Opioid Use

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Fully 68% of global deaths in Y 2017 related to drug use disorders were from the use of opioids, a new report from the United Nations has found.


The 2019 World Drug report found that 585,000 people died from drug use in 2017. Of that, 167,000 were deaths from drug use disorders, and 110,000 of those were from opioid use.

North America in particular saw a rise in deaths from opioid overdoses. The study also found that about 35-M people suffered from drug use disorders in Y 2017.

US overdose deaths hit a record 70,237 in Y 2017, of which 68%, or 47,600, were caused by opioids.

“The findings of this year’s World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to drug supply and demand,” the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, wrote in the preface to the report.

“Synthetic opioids continue to pose a serious threat to health, with overdose deaths rising in North America and trafficking in fentanyl and its analogues expanding in Europe and elsewhere,” reads the report. 

“The opioid crisis that has featured in far fewer headlines but that requires equally urgent international attention is the non-medical use of the painkiller tramadol, particularly in Africa,” it continues. “The amount of tramadol seized globally reached a record 125 tons in 2017; the limited data available indicate that the tramadol being used for non-medical purposes in Africa is being illicitly manufactured in South Asia and trafficked to the region, as well as to parts of the Middle East.”

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