Australia Tops UN 2014 World Report for Illicit Drug Use; Ecstasy Top Drug for Aussies

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Powdered heroin is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
Powdered heroin is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. U Reuters/US DEA/Handout via Reu

Australia tops United Nations' list of nations with the highest number of recreational drug use. Recent figures from the UN's 2014 World Drug Report revealed Australia's use of illegal drugs is more extensive than other countries in the world.

According to the report, Australia had the highest number of ecstasy users in the world. The country ranked fourth, based on cocaine users and seventh among cannabis users.  Second only to the United States, Australia showed a trend of increasing demand for the use of prescribed pain relievers like codeine and morphine.

While the UN report showed Australia as the top consumer of ecstasy drugs, the data suggested usage has declined. The report indicated that Australia may be seeing an increase of users taking cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, solvents and inhalants but it ecstasy use has slowed down.

Researchers suggest there is a wide range of illicit drugs, including new psychoactive substances circulating in Australia. The decline in heroin use was associated with the consistent abuse of prescribed opiods which includes the "hillbilly heroin."

The report had found that high-income countries like Australia, Canada and the United States show high consumption of opiods due to medical use.

The report said the heroin market declined in Australia due to supply constraints in 2001 along with a change in consumption patterns. Some users switched to prescription opiods as a substitute to heroin. In some cases, the use of oxycodone increased instead of morphine.

The use of cocaine in Australia remained the same after 2012 with an estimated 14 to 21 million users around the world.

The UN report suggests the drug's increasing supply in Europe is possibly due to the availability of the drug supply in Peru. The supply may be entering the Australian market which has grown in recent times despite the drugs being sold at higher prices compared to the western and central Europe.

The UN report found the manufacture of methamphetamine in North America has expanded with an increase in the number of destroyed drug laboratories in the U.S. and Mexico.

Scotland has the highest cocaine usage, while Iceland has topped the list for cannabis use.

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