The global numbers for drug users
According to the World Drug Report of 2011, the overall number of drug users appears to have increased over the last decade, from 180 to some 210million people (range: 149-272 million). However, when considering only ‘problem drug users’ – ie those who regularly use illicit substances and are dependent – the estimates range from 15 to 39 million people, equivalent to 0.3%-0.9% of the population aged 15-64.
The drug monster in South Asia
South Asia has been a traditional hotbed for the illicit trafficking of drugs. The strong nexus between the traffickers, the terrorist organisations and the money launderers, coupled with lax and corrupt surveillance and inadequate legal provisions have allowed this monster to have a strangle-hold on the belt extending from Southeast Asia to Central Asia.
The South Asian region is the principal transit route for psychotropic drugs on their way to various parts of the world. Heroin, cannabis and opium are the major drugs of abuse here.
The Golden Triangle, an area overlapping the mountains of four countries in Southeast Asia, has been one of the world’s most extensive opium-producing areas of the world since the 1920s. It consists of an area of around 367,000 square miles across Burma, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
The Golden Crescent is Asia’s other principal area of illicit opium production located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Western Asia. The area overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and PakistanWhile Afghanistan and Pakistan produce opium – Afghanistan is the world’s primary producer of opiates and hashish - Iran is a consumer and trans-shipment route.
Article courtesy: ‘Drug-trafficking in South Asia: A Profile’ by N. Manoharan, Research Officer, IPCS)