An Overview of Treatment Around the World

Treatment Around the World Header
Drug addiction involves a dependence, both physical and psychological, that leads to powerful cravings for the drug and trouble stopping use of the drug without professional treatment.[1] The symptoms of addiction include but are not limited to:[2]

  • A developed tolerance to the drug, meaning more must be used in order to feel the same effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped
  • Frequent use of the substance
  • Obsessing about always having the drug on hand and going to extremes, like bargaining sex for drugs, in order to fill your supply
  • Legal ramifications because of your drug abuse
  • A desire to quit using or cut back but a repeated failure to do so
  • Feeling like you can’t get through life or operate adequately without the drug
  • Getting fired or missing out on career opportunities, losing or damaging relationships with friends and relatives, or a losing interest in things you once enjoyed doing
  • Persisting with drug use despite facing health consequences and interferences in your life directly due to the substance abuse
  • Engaging in activities that would be deemed as risky or life-threatening behaviors while on the drug, like operating a vehicle while intoxicated, which endangers your own life and the lives of others

Illicit Drug Use

During the year 2012, one in every 20 people around the world used an illicit drug.[3] Of those, about 27 million were problem drug users, who make up about one in every 200 people across the globe.[4] In totality, around 200,000 deaths every year are attributed to drug abuse.[5]

While heroin and cocaine top lists as the most popularly abused illicit drugs in the world,[6] it isn’t always the illegal substance that you need to worry about. Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are consistently the leaders among substance abuse worldwide.[7] Tobacco was linked to roughly 480,000 deaths in the United States alone in 2010.[8] In the same year, alcohol claimed 25,692 lives, 16,651 people overdosed and died from prescription pain medications, and 16,195 did the same with non-prescription drugs.[9]


Alcoholics Worldwide

Alcoholism is defined as being a prolonged disease that includes issues limiting drinking, being engrossed with thoughts of alcohol, continuing to drink even when it leads to problems, a physical dependence on alcohol, or having symptoms of withdrawal when you rapidly reduce or cease drinking.[10] Worldwide, there were 17 million people suffering from an alcohol use disorder as of 2012.[11] Every year, 5.9 percent of all deaths, about 3.3 million people, occur because of dangerous use of alcohol.[12] Said use of alcohol is also linked to more than 200 diseases and injuries, with 5.1 percent of all illnesses worldwide being due to booze.[13]

Less than half of the more than 78,000 respondents in a recent global survey were aware of what their nation’s recommended drinking limits were.[14] Furthermore, an average of three to five percent of the population of most nations surveyed were classified as alcohol-dependent, with a few seriously high outliers, like Britain at 6.5 percent, Belgium at 7.5 percent, and more than 10 percent in Ireland.[15] Of key interest is how high scoring (20 or higher rating on the survey) drinkers view themselves, with one in four who were classified as heavily alcohol-dependent rating their own drinking as being average.[16] Unfortunately, recent research shows that of those who are classified as being heavily alcohol-dependent, fewer than 60 percent acknowledged that their behavior put them in danger of alcohol-related problems.[17]

Global Treatment

Treatment Stat

Treatment options for both drug and alcohol abuse vary widely across the globe. While some of the best treatment facilities in the world are located right here in America, the United States isn’t the only beacon of hope. Unfortunately, fewer than one in every five people in need of drug abuse treatment actually receive it.[18]

Most developing countries do offer some extent of substance abuse treatment, but it is often limited in nature and lacks the follow-up and support that are crucial in assuring that sobriety is lasting for the patient. The majority of Middle Eastern rehabilitation centers focus solely on detoxing the patient and nothing else. Likewise, not all of them have the safeguards that US facilities provide, like a medicated detox program. Mental health care is limited at best in developing nations where drug abuse and alcoholism still aren’t considered to be linked to mental illness.

The Middle East and Africa

The most popularly abused drugs in East and Southeast Asia are Ecstasy and methamphetamines.[19] In South Africa, marijuana was the primary reason for substance abuse treatment in one study, with amphetamines playing a close second and cocaine in third place.[20] There are an approximate 28 million drug users living in Africa, and 37,000 of them lose their lives to their substance abuse habits every year.[21]

Alcohol is still used, but in many places it is highly illegal under prohibition bans of the substance. Substance abuse treatment can be hard to come by in developing Asian countries. Many who are using illicit substances are fearful of coming forward and asking for help, because the laws against illegal drug and alcohol use in many Asian nations are extreme, with some even imposing life in prison and the death penalty for small possessions of certain drugs.

Among 23 nations in North Africa and the Middle East, data has recently shown an emerging trend of HIV infections popping up in at least 33 percent of the nations studied.[22] In fact, 10 to 15 percent of injection drug users living in nations like Bahrain, Egypt, Afghanistan, Morocco, Oman, Iran, and Pakistan are infected with HIV.[23] In Pakistan alone, HIV infections among injection drug users spiked significantly to a quarter in 2011, up from 11 percent in 2005.[24]

Pakistan HIV stat

There are modernized treatment options for substance abuse in this region, but they lie mostly in South Africa. More developed Asian countries, like China, also have plenty to offer in the way of well-rounded healthcare for both mental illness and substance abuse treatment. The treatment facilities that do exist in lesser developed sects are geared primarily toward detoxing the patient without regard for what happens to them afterward.


European culture is a little more lax than other developed nations like the US. With that, drug and alcohol abuse occurs at somewhat higher rates. Some of the nations with the highest rates of alcohol abuse, like Britain and Ireland, are housed within the continent of Europe. Likewise, Britain also boasts the highest addiction rate in the land, with over 320,000 problem drug users as of 2007.[25]

Europe clearly prefers stimulants, with the most popularly abused drugs being cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, and Ecstasy.[26] Synthetic drug use reached an all-time high in 2012.[27] Serious drug trends have been on the rise, such as the increase of cocaine users among the 16-to-29-year-old age group from one percent in 1996 to five percent in 2000[28], there is hope for the future with some studies showing decreasing levels of substance abuse among the youngest generations.[29] Treatment is anything but sparse in Europe, and socialized health care has made it possible for many to seek help that wouldn’t be able to in other parts of the world.

The Americas

Drug abuse isn’t a new concept for those residing in North or South America. Murder rate in the Americas is among the highest at 36 percent of the 437,000 homicides that occurred worldwide in 2012, and the drug cartels of Mexico are a primary reason for their escalation over the years.[30] In the United States, marijuana leads the nation as the most popularly abused drug, with 14.4 million people over the age of 11 reporting use of it in 2007 and 18.9 million in 2012.[31] Drug trends fluctuate in the Americas, but more so from one drug to the next as some are phased out, and new drugs like bath salts and spice become popular trends. Overall, the amount of people abusing drugs has risen in recent decades, but promising research gives hope to declines in the future.

Alcohol use is just as high in Canada as it is elsewhere, with 2011 data reporting an 89.7 percent lifetime use rate.[32] In the same year, 9.1 percent of the population over age 14 admitted to past-year marijuana use.[33] Data from Canada also reports that a minimum of one in every five people with a mental health disorder also have a problem with substance abuse.[34]

Treatment options in North America are plentiful; those in need can choose from the most luxurious and comprehensive programs and receive top-notch care under both inpatient and outpatient care regimens. Rehab International can help you on your journey to sobriety. It starts with finding the best program that suits your specific treatment needs. Call now for more information.



[1]Drug addiction.” (n.d.). PBS. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Rogers, S. (2012 July 2). “Drug prevalence across the world (UNODC, World Drugs Report 2012).The Guardian. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Join Together Staff. (2012 June 27). “Drug Abuse Kills 200,000 People Each Year: UN Report.Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[6] Sammy Said. (2013 June 14). “Top 10 Most Commonly Used Illegal Drugs.The Richest. September 9, 2014.

[7]The Most Used Drugs According to 2014’s Global Drug Survey.” (2014 April 14). Huffington Post. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[8] Lopez, G. (2014 May 9). “The 3 deadliest drugs in America are all totally legal.Vox. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). “Alcoholism.Mayo Clinic. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[11]Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” (n.d.). National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[12]Alcohol.” (2014 May). World Health Organization. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[13] Ibid.

[14]Alcohol: Highlights from Global Drug Survey 2014.” (n.d.). GlobalDrugSurvey via YouTube. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17]The Most Used Drugs According to 2014’s Global Drug Survey.” (2014 April 14). Huffington Post. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[18] Join Together Staff. (2012 June 27). “Drug Abuse Kills 200,000 People Each Year: UN Report.Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[19]Ecstasy and Methamphetamine first choice of drugs in East and South East Asia.” (2010 November 25). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[20] Peltzer, K., Ramlagan, S., Johnson, B. & Phaswana-Mafuya, N. (2011 May 1). “Illicit Drug Use and Treatment in South Africa.Substance Use and Misuse. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[21] Ndlinda, L. (2013 February 20). “Illegal drug use on the rise in Africa.Deutsche Welle. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[22]HIV Spikes Among Drug Users in Middle East, North Africa.” (2014 June 23). AIDS Meds. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Steele, J. (2007 April 19). “Britain has worst drug addiction rate in Europe.The Telegraph. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[26]Drug use in Europe: which are the most popular drugs?” (n.d.). The Guardian. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[27]Synthetic drug-use in Europe at all-time high: agency.” (2012 November 15). New York Daily News. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Giata, P. (2014 July 8). “Study Shows Rise in Smart Drug Use By European Students.The Fix. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[30] Lopez, O. (2014 April 10). “America Is Most Dangerous Continent, With 36 Of World Homicides, Says New U.N. Study.Latin Times. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[31]Drug Facts: Nationwide Trends.” (2014 January). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[32]Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey.” (2011). Health Canada. Accessed September 9, 2014.

[33] Ibid.

[34]Statistics on Mental Illness and Addictions.” (n.d.). Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Accessed September 9 2014.


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