What is the global prevalence of heroin use?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020
  • Author: Rania Habal, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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According to the 2020 report of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), the global prevalence of opiate (heroin, opium, and misused pharmaceutical opioids) use in 2018 was estimated at 1.2% of the population, or 57.8 million people. Levels of opiate use were much higher than the global average in North America (3.6%), Australia and New Zealand (3.3%), the Near and Middle East and South-West Asia (2.6%) and South Asia (2.0%). [1]

In its 2020 annual report, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) estimated that in 2018 there were 1.3 million high-risk opioid users in Europe, or 0.4 % of the adult population, with heroin being the most widely used opioid. The EMCDDA reported that although patterns and trends vary among countries, Europe may be witnessing a longer-term decline in heroin use, for reasons that may include reduced interest in the drug and reduced availability of it. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of primary heroin users in Europe who entered drug treatment for the first time decreased in 18 of the 29 countries with available data. [5]

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