Estimated Worldwide Treatment Utilization and Unmet Treatment Need

"Globally, the extent to which people in need of drug treatment actually receive it remains limited. In 2016, as in previous years, an estimated one in six people who had drug use disorders received treatment. Despite limitations, information about people in treatment for drug use can provide useful insight into trends and geographical variations with respect to drug use disorders. However, this information should be interpreted with caution because treatment numbers reflect not only demand for treatment (the number of people seeking help) but also the extent of the provision of treatment (depending on government willingness to finance treatment services).

"Most people in drug treatment in Africa, the Americas and Oceania are being treated for cannabis use. In all regions except Africa, an increasing proportion of the drug treatment provided is related to cannabis use. Although cannabis has consistently been the most common drug of use among those receiving drug treatment in Africa, treatment for opioid use disorders is increasing in the region. This trend may be an indication that ongoing trafficking of heroin and pharmaceutical opioids in transit through Africa to other destinations has produced a worrying spillover effect on drug use within Africa. Opioids remain a major concern in Europe and Asia, especially in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, where two of every three people in drug treatment are there for opioid use disorders.

"Cocaine continues to be a drug of concern among those receiving treatment in Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular, where one third of those in treatment for drug use disorders are being treated for cocaine use, although that proportion has been declining. Cocaine use disorders are reported as the primary reason for drug treatment, albeit to a lesser extent, in North America and Western and Central Europe as well. In North America, treatment primarily for cocaine use disorders has been declining in relative importance, while the proportion of those in treatment for opioid use disorders has increased. In the United States, between 2004 and 2014, the number of admissions related primarily to the use of cocaine declined by 65 per cent, from 248,000 to 88,000 individuals, and treatment for the use of opiates increased by 51 per cent, from 323,000 to 490,000 individuals. There is a higher proportion of treatment for the use of ATS in Asia and Oceania than in other regions."


World Drug Report 2018. United Nations publication, Sales No. E.18.XI.9.