"It is estimated that 61.3 million people (range: 36.5 million–78.1 million) had used opioids in the past year worldwide in 2020. This includes people who use opiates and people who use pharmaceutical opioids for non-medical purposes and corresponds to 1.2 per cent of the global population aged 15–64. The majority of people who use opioids are men – an estimated 85% based on data from 26 countries.

"Since 2017, both quantitative and qualitative information have pointed to a moderate increase in opioid use, with possible stabilization in 2020. Qualitative reporting suggests that between 2010 and 2017 most countries observed decreases in opioid use. However, it is challenging to confirm long-term trends in opioid use by means of quantitative estimates, since it is not always possible to determine if changes were the result of actual phenomena or merely the result of improved data. For example, global estimates show a sharp increase in use between 2016 and 2017, but this mainly represents new estimates made available for Asia and Africa.

"About half of the users of opioids had used opiates, mainly heroin and opium, in the past year. Opiate use includes, most often, the use of heroin and opium, but also non medical use of codeine and morphine. Opiate use constitutes part of overall opioid use and follows similar trends."


UNODC, World Drug Report 2022 (United Nations publication, 2022).