If Governments react as they did to the 2008 economic crisis by reducing drug-related policy interventions; prevention, and treatment services; the report says that opioid addiction counter-measures could be particularly impacted.
Against the backdrop of legalized cannabis in some countries, and regions such as some states in the US, the report notes that frequent use has increased, along with the wider availability of higher-potency products in some markets.
And based on data from 69 countries covering the period between 2014 and 2018, cannabis accounts for more than half of all drug offences registered.
While the availability of medical opioids varies across the globe, the report points out that low-income countries still suffer a critical shortage of therapeutics for pain management and palliative care.
In 2018, more than 90 per cent of pharmaceutical opioids were made available for just 12 per cent of the global population, based in high-income countries. Meanwhile, 88 per cent of the global population in low and middle-income countries consumed less than 10 per cent.
Legislation, culture, health systems and prescribing practices, are all important factors in accessing pharmaceutical opioids, the report says.
At the same time, poverty, limited education and social marginalization, not only increase the risk of drug addiction but are areas in which marginalized groups may face discrimination and stigma in getting effective treatment.
“We need all Governments to show greater solidarity and provide support, to developing countries most of all, to tackle illicit drug trafficking and offer evidence-based services for drug use disorders and related diseases, so we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, promote justice and leave no one behind,” concluded the UNODC chief.