20 Percent of World’s Population Smoke Tobacco and 5 Percent Have Alcohol Use Disorder

More than 20 percent of the global population smoke tobacco and five percent have an alcohol use disorder. That’s according to Global Statistics on Addictive Behaviours: 2014 Status Report, a collection of the most recent, up-to-date data on addictive disorders worldwide, published in the journal Addiction.

The report also estimates that 11 percent of deaths in males and 6 percent of deaths in females each year are due to tobacco. Out of the illicit drugs, marijuana is the most prevalent at 3.5 percent globally and researchers estimate the worldwide number of intravenous drug users at about 15 million.

As noted in Medical News Today, one of the most striking discoveries documented in the report is the societal damage resulting from legal drugs such as alcohol. One example is regarding the number of disability-adjusted life years that are lost. Whereas illicit drug use results in about 83 disability-adjusted life years lost per 100,000 population, alcohol use results in the loss of 257 disability-adjusted life years lost.

The highest drinking level was found in Eastern Europe at 13.6 liters of annual alcohol consumption per head of population per year. Northern Europe had the second highest drinking level, with was 11.5 liters. Lowest consumption levels were found in Western, South and Central Asia at 2.1 liters. The Caribbean islands had the highest rates of intravenous drug use at 0.8 percent, which is over double the 0.3 percent rate found in Western Europe.

Authors of the report recognize the limitations in collecting data regarding drug and alcohol use. To remain anonymous, individuals may feel uncomfortable answering certain questions. For this reason and lack of regulation, obtaining data on drug and alcohol abuse is difficult. Despite the challenge in collecting data, the report was published to enable agencies and governments throughout the world to develop policies that combat alcohol and drug abuse.

To obtain a complete copy of “Global Statistics on Addictive Behaviours: 2014 Status Report,” click here.