Ten Substance-Abusing Countries and Their Drug of Choice
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., having taken 52,404 lives in 2015. Among these deaths, the majority of the responsibility falls to prescription opioids (20,101) and heroin (12,990.) Also, two million people had a substance use disorder related to prescription painkillers, and another 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
But opioids aren’t the true drug of choice in the United States. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit substance, although in many areas marijuana has been legalized for medicinal or recreational purposes. Marijuana is infinitely safer than opioids, but can still result in negative lifestyle changes when someone engages in excessive use.
And globally, there’s a huge substance abuse problem, but many other countries don’t imbibe in the same drugs that we do in the U.S. Here’s a list of some of the most substance-using countries.
Since Afghanistan is riddled with vast poppy fields and cultivates most of the world’s opium, it’s not too surprising that heroin addiction is extremely common.
Over the past few years, the addiction rate of heroin has doubled in the country, and the opium market makes up about half of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product. The drug is very inexpensive and often cheaper yet than food.
In Belarus, the average Sergei consumes about 17.5 liters of alcohol annually, and the average male consumes even more (27.5 liters.) By comparison, the global average is about 6.2 liters. Belarusian’s consume mostly spirits (47%) and homemade vodkas and wines (30%.) There are 170,000 officially recorded alcoholics and three-quarters of the population drink with some frequency.
Regarding alcohol consumption, the next two in line are Moldova and Lithuania, following by Russia (see below.)
Brazilians commonly consume a drug unknown to many Americans – it’s called oxi or oxidado. The name means “rust” and is a potent combination of cocaine, gasoline, calcium oxide, and kerosine. The mixture results in a powerfully addictive hallucinogen. It’s a new concoction, having just been discovered in 2004.
It’s aptly nicknamed the “drug of death” due to its addictive potential and destructive nature. In 2011, an estimated 8,000 people or 2.5% of Rio Branco residents were addicted to oxidado. Brazil is also the number one consumer of crack cocaine globally, recently surpassing the United States.
Like the U.S., Canada is a huge consumer of marijuana, and it is especially popular among youngsters. According to the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey in 2013, 22% of youth and 26% of young adults were using marijuana, a huge jump from just 8% of adults over age 25. In 2015, the CBC also reported that 20% of all Canadians admitted using marijuana in the past year.
Recently, the Liberal Party in the Canadian Parliament introduced a bill intended to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
If this occurs, Canada would be the first developed country in the world to legalize pot since the war on drugs began in the 1970s, and the minimum age for purchase would be set at 18.
The French like their antidepressants, sedatives, and opioid substitution medications. France’s National Drug Safety Agency reported that nearly one-third of French adults were using one of these drugs recreationally.
Opioid substitution medications (i.e. methadone) were the #1 drug found in overdoses, and they were responsible for more than half of drug overdose deaths in 2013.
Back to opium and heroin -these drugs from Afghanistan enter through Iran’s eastern borders, and the cost of opium is sometimes even less than beer. For example, in the town of Zahedan near the border of Pakistan, three grams of opium can be bought for about the equivalent of a U.S. dollar.
Mexico is known internationally for drug manufacturing and trafficking. For many Mexicans, their drug of choice is methamphetamine, as it costs only about $24 U.S. .dollars. Between 2002-2008, the number of meth users in the state of Sonora quadrupled.
Russians, especially men enjoy hard liquor, and vodka is a favorite. The World Health Organization reported that in 2011, the yearly consumption per capita was nearly 16 liters, making it the fourth highest in Europe.
In fact, an estimated 25% of all Russian men who don’t live to age 55 die of alcohol-related causes, such as liver disease, alcohol poisoning, and drunk driving crashes.
Slovakia is a small country, but an estimated 13% of users name their drug of choice as inhalants such as toluene, a paint thinner. Gypsy youth are a big part of this problem, and those in poverty tend to abuse the most.
Slovakia also ranks at the tenth highest alcohol-consuming country in the world.
The United Kingdom
Similar to Russia, heavy binge drinking is somewhat socially acceptable. The BBC reported that in 2012, the incidence of liver disease had increased by 20%. Alcohol is thought to be a factor in 15% of driving accidents, more than one-quarter of drownings and work-related accidents, and more than a third of fire-related deaths.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology