Fentanyl has "radically changed the use of opioids in North America," the UNODC said on the occasion of the publication of its annual report. There, in 2021, fentanyl was involved in the majority of around 90,000 deaths in connection with opioid overdoses. And the production of these substances threatens to increase further. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than the illegal opioid drug heroin.
In the context of the Ukraine war, there are "indications" that it could lead to an "expansion in manufacturing and trafficking in synthetic drugs, given the existing expertise and large markets developing in the region," the UN said - Office next.
The expected "drastic decline" in poppy cultivation, which is important for heroin production, in Afghanistan due to a ban by the Taliban could also promote "a reorientation towards the production of synthetic drugs". The region is already one of the main producers of methamphetamine (crystal meth), the world's dominant synthetic drug.
According to the UN, more than 296 million people were using drugs worldwide in 2021. This is an increase of 23 percent within ten years. Cannabis remains the most commonly used drug.
The number of people with drug-related disorders has skyrocketed by 45 percent over the same period. According to the UN, only every fifth person affected was being treated.