U.N. report documents how opium contributes to spread of disease, deaths

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Wednesday released a report -  "Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium" - documenting how "[t]he smuggling of Afghan opiates is fueling addiction and drug use along trafficking routes from Iran to Central Asia," and contributing to the spread of diseases, the Associated Press reports (Oleksyn, 10/21).

"Of the 15.4 million opiate users worldwide, 11.3 million use heroin, while the rest use opium," Reuters reports. "Nearly half the world's heroin is consumed in Europe and Russia and 42 percent of the world's opium users are in Iran. Heroin and opium cause up to 100,000 deaths a year and are helping spread HIV at an unprecedented rate, the report found" (Nichols, 10/22).

The report tracked how "'[t]he Afghan opiate trade fuels consumption and addiction in countries along drug trafficking routes before reaching the main consumer markets in Europe (estimated at 3.1 million heroin users), contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases,'" the AP reports. The UNODC also notes, "'Iran faces the world's most serious opiate addiction problem, while injecting drug use in Central Asia is causing an HIV epidemic'" (10/21).

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