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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Top 20 Countries With Highest Drug Consumption

In this piece, we will take a look at the top 20 countries with the highest drug consumption. To skip our primer on drug usage, its economic impacts, and the treatments for different addictions, head on over to Top 5 Countries With Highest Drug Consumption.

Drug use is a global problem, and one that has provided users with novel ways to alter their state of mind as technology has progressed. Advances in chemical distillation and industrial equipment have enabled drug cartels to make novel new drugs such as methamphetamine and ecstasy - or purify them to exacting proportions for that elusive high.

At the same time, the number of people that use drugs in the world will likely stun you. The population of the United States, according to the latest estimates by the Census Bureau is 332 million. And, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), a stunning 284 million people used drugs in the world as of 2020. As you can see, this is nearly equal to the population of America - one of the most populous nations in the world. This figure, covering drug users aged between 15 and 64 years of age, marked a 26% jump over the decade that ended in 2010. Comparing this with global population growth, which grew by 13% during the same time period, indicates that drug usage has outpaced population growth.

Not only does drug use destroy countless lives, but the demand for these substances also affects others caught up in the web of global drug demand. Drug trafficking is one of the cruelest industries in the world, where drug mules from both developed and developing countries are exploited by cartels to smuggle drugs globally. According to data from the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, there is not one single country that can be identified as a global drug trafficking hub. Instead, there are several that are the worst offenders when it comes to drug production and drug trafficking. In fact, the State Department has identified 22 countries that have either the highest drug trafficking or drug production in the world. This list of worst offenders includes Afghanistan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Venezuela. As you can check out for yourself, this list of countries which is from a 2022 report, is quite similar to our list of countries with the highest drug trafficking in 2018.

So, how many kinds of different drugs (illicit) are there? Well, you're likely to have heard of some of the most common ones such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. However, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) takes a different look when determining the different kinds of drugs. According to its classification, drugs are primarily categorized into seven categories. These are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, CNS stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, inhalants, and cannabis. Some examples of the different kinds of drugs within these categories are MDMA, LSD, Oxycontin, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and even everyday items such as plastic cement, gasoline, paint thinners, and hair sprays.

The global prevalence of drug use and abuse has also led to nicknames of countries as 'drug capitals of the world.' Depending on the metric, we can classify several countries as drug capitals. For instance, when it comes to the Middle East, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is thought to be the drug capital. This is because of Captagon, a mood enhancing drug. Estimates show that more than half of the Captagon seized in the Middle East was in Saudi Arabia, after the drug initially gained popularity in the Syrian War as it was used by fighters to increase their endurance. When it comes to being the party drug capital of the world, it's Great Britain that takes the 'crown', particularly due to the high usage of cocaine in both Scotland and England. However, Scotland is also called the drug death capital of the world, as the highest number of drug deaths per 100,000 people in the world take place in the country.


Finally, the costs of substance abuse are equally as staggering as the number of drug users worldwide. Estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services show that alcohol misuse costs the economy $249 billion annually while illicit drug use costs $193 billion. America also has the highest opiod use rate in the world, which in turn has enabled the creation of an $8.4 billion industry that aims to produce drugs to stop opioid abuse and addiction. And, some firms that are making treatments for opioid abuse are Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS), and West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (NYSE:WST).

One such treatment is reSET-O(TM) manufactured by the subsidiary of Novartis, Sandoz. Another is Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE:AMRX) which makes the Naloxone nasal spray for opioid overdose treatment. At its earnings conference for the first quarter of 2023


Top 20 Countries With Highest Drug Consumption

20. Republic of Bulgaria

Insider Monkey's Score: 36

The Republic of Bulgaria is a Southeast European country. It has a $86 billion economy in nominal terms which corresponds to a GDP per capita of $12,340. Drug related crimes rank third in the number of crimes committed in the country by type - with car thefts being far more common.

19. French Republic

Insider Monkey's Score: 36

The French Republic, or France, is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. When comparing opioid, cocaine, and amphetamine use in the country, France ranks quite high in cocaine use, ranking 18th in the global ranking of cocaine users.

18. Kingdom of Sweden

Insider Monkey's Score: 35

The Kingdom of Sweden is a developed Nordic European country. It has a $599 billion economy and one of the highest GDP per capita in the world at $55,295. While Sweden has lower cocaine use than France, it ranks higher in both opioid and amphetamine use.

17. Republic of Estonia

Insider Monkey's Score: 33

The Republic of Estonia is a Northern European country. One of the smallest nations in the world, it has a $41 billion economy and a GDP per capita of $31,207.

16. Republic of Latvia

Insider Monkey's Score: 30.67

The Republic of Latvia is a Baltic Northern European nation. It ranks higher than Estonia due to the significant use of cocaine and opioids. However, Latvia ranks at 40 when it comes to amphetamine use.

15. Kingdom of Spain

Insider Monkey's Score: 28.33

The Kingdom of Spain is another developed European country. The sole reason that it makes it to our list is because of high cocaine usage, which makes Spain the third largest cocaine user in the world - beaten only by Australia and Albania.

14. Belize

Insider Monkey's Score: 28.33

Belize is a Central American country that is one of the smallest in the world in terms of area.

13. Italian Republic

Insider Monkey's Score: 27.67

Italy is a European nation with a $2.1 trillion economy. It is known all over the world for its art and agriculture.

12. New Zealand

Insider Monkey's Score: 27.67

New Zealand is a country in the Pacific Ocean. While it ranks low in cocaine use, the percentage of opioid users in the country is quite high.

11. Oriental Republic of Uruguay

Insider Monkey's Score: 25.67

The Oriental Republic of Uruguay, or Uruguay, is a South American country that is known for its economic and political stability. However, at the same time, it is the third highest user of opioids and the tenth highest user of cocaine in the world.

10. Kingdom of Belgium

Insider Monkey's Score: 25.33

The Kingdom of Belgium is a developed European country. It has a $589 billion economy and a GDP per capita of $50,598.

9. Federal Republic of Germany

Insider Monkey's Score: 24.33

The Federal Republic of Germany is Europe's largest economy. It is currently suffering from an economic slowdown due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

8. Republic of South Africa

Insider Monkey's Score: 24.33

The Republic of South Africa, commonly known as South Africa, is one of the most developed countries in Africa.

7. Jamaica

Insider Monkey's Score: 23.67

Jamaica is an island nation in the Caribbean. It ranks high on our list primarily due to a large percentage of opioid users.

6. Republic of Finland

Insider Monkey's Score: 19.67

The Republic of Finland is a Nordic European country. It ranks fifth on the list of the world's highest users of amphetamine.

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