Researchers Release First Report on Worldwide Addiction Statistics

Australian researchers have released the first-ever report on worldwide addiction statistics. They found about 240 million people around the world are dependent on alcohol, more than a billion people smoke, and about 15 million people use injection drugs, such as heroin.

The report uses data from sources including the World Health Organization and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, according to NPR. The researchers say the report is important because it provides a baseline of drug and alcohol use worldwide, along with comparisons among different regions.

Lead researcher Dr. Linda Gowing of the University of Adelaide’s School of Medical Sciences in Australia said the report found alcohol takes a greater toll on “productive years of life lost” than does tobacco. That means people dependent on alcohol not only die younger, but also have poor health over a longer period. Alcohol affects their work and relationships, and reduces their quality of life.

According to the report, people in Eastern Europe smoke and drink more than anyone else in the world, while Asians drink the least. “One thing that stands out is countries that are predominantly Muslim have a much lower rate of alcohol consumption,” Gowing said. Alcohol consumption is also lower in the least developed countries, the report found.

In many countries the smoking rate is much higher among men. Drinking is more common among men in some countries, but not in Western nations, the report found.

“The delights of the Internet mean that there’s an awful lot of information out there — but you have to know where to look for it,” Gowing said. “We thought it would be useful to have it in one place.”

The findings are published in Addiction.

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