How the world does drugs

The UN’s International Narcotics Control Board released its annual report on the global trade Wednesday. A few points to ponder: The gender gap is closing; men have typically exhibited higher rates of drug use than women globally, but in many countries that margin is now narrowing. Prescription drug abuse is up globally.  The U.S. remains ...

The UN's International Narcotics Control Board released its annual report on the global trade Wednesday. A few points to ponder:

The gender gap is closing; men have typically exhibited higher rates of drug use than women globally, but in many countries that margin is now narrowing. Prescription drug abuse is up globally.  The U.S. remains the world's top market for illicit drugs. More than a third of ecstacy seized globally in 2008 was bound for Australia. Meth is most frequently abused illegal drug in Japan, Korea, and the Phillipines. In most of the world -- East and Southeast Asia are the exception -- cannabis is the most commonly used drug. In Iraq, valium is the most often abused prescription drug. It is widely available in correctional and health facilities across the country. Countries with faltering economies "are at risk for and, in some cases, show increasing drug use."

The UN’s International Narcotics Control Board released its annual report on the global trade Wednesday. A few points to ponder:

  • The gender gap is closing; men have typically exhibited higher rates of drug use than women globally, but in many countries that margin is now narrowing.
  • Prescription drug abuse is up globally. 
  • The U.S. remains the world’s top market for illicit drugs.
  • More than a third of ecstacy seized globally in 2008 was bound for Australia.
  • Meth is most frequently abused illegal drug in Japan, Korea, and the Phillipines.
  • In most of the world — East and Southeast Asia are the exception — cannabis is the most commonly used drug.
  • In Iraq, valium is the most often abused prescription drug. It is widely available in correctional and health facilities across the country.
  • Countries with faltering economies "are at risk for and, in some cases, show increasing drug use."
Christina Larson is an award-winning foreign correspondent and science journalist based in Beijing, and a former Foreign Policy editor. She has reported from nearly a dozen countries in Asia. Her features have appeared in the New York Times, Wired, Science, Scientific American, the Atlantic, and other publications. In 2016, she won the Overseas Press Club of America’s Morton Frank Award for international magazine writing. Twitter: @larsonchristina

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