The number of people who use drugs will increase by another 11% by 2030 globally, with the low-income countries leading the trend, according to the World Drug Report 2021 released on Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “Globally, the number of people using drugs is projected to rise by 11 percent by 2030 because of demographic changes alone. Low-income countries account for the lion’s share of this rise,” the report said.

According to the findings, the surge in active drug users in Africa alone is expected to be around 40% over the next decade due to population growth and higher rate of drug use among younger population. The number of drug users has already grown some 22% globally, from 226 million in 2010 to roughly 275 million people last year. Population growth accounted for about 10% of that increase.

The UNODC stressed that opioids remain the main cause of drug-related deaths in the world. In 2019, 18 million years of healthy life were lost owing to drug use disorders, with opioid use accounting for 70% of the total, the findings showed. “There were more than 11 million people who inject drugs globally in 2019, of whom 1.4 million are living with HIV and 5.6 million with hepatitis C. Almost 1.2 million people live with both,” the report stated.

However, the UNODC noted that there is a positive trend concerning availability of pharmaceutical opioids, methadone and buprenorphine, which are commonly used to treat drug use disorders. The agency also said that the past decade has seen a decline in deaths attributed to HIV and AIDS among drug users.