Synthetic marijuana and bath salts are now the most widely abused drugs among young people in several parts of globe.
According to the 2013 World Drug Report, the prevalence of new psychoactive substances have increased by more than 50 percent from 2009 to 2012, even exceeding the total number of substances under international control.
These psychoactive substances are marketed as “legal highs” and “designer drugs” under the street names spice, bath salts, and meow-meow. The majority of users are teenagers who perceive the drugs as being harmless.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) described the proliferation of new psychoactive drugs as happening at “an unprecedented rate and posing unforeseen public health challenges.” And while law enforcement lags behind the problem, illegal drug manufacturers are getting better and better in terms of changing the formulation of their products to avoid legal troubles.
UNODC warned that “the adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood.”
Meanwhile, the use of traditional drugs seems to remain steady if not significantly declining. In the United States, cocaine use continues to drop, though prescription drug abuse is growing.
High prevalence of opiate use was also reported from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, as well as South-West and Central Asia.
In terms of production, Afghanistan maintains its position as the leading producer and cultivator of opium globally. In 2012, the country produced 75 percent of global illicit opium.