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Public health aspects of illicit psychoactive drug use 

Public health aspects of illicit psychoactive drug use
Public health aspects of illicit psychoactive drug use

Don Des Jarlais

, Jonathan Feelemyer

, and Deborah Hassin

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date: 28 June 2022

The misuse of psychoactive drugs is a major public health problem in many countries. This chapter focuses on health-related aspects of illicit psychoactive drug use, in particular opiates such as heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine type stimulants, which cause major public health problems even if they are not on the magnitude of the problems caused by nicotine and alcohol. In the most recent World Drug Report (2012), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that in 2010, between 3.4% and 6.6% of the adult population (aged 15–64) used an illicit drug in the previous year. Of these, some 10–13% of drug users were considered to be problem users with drug dependence and/or drug-use disorders. Despite the modest numbers of adults who use illicit drugs, they generate many costs to society, including lost productivity, increased disability and deaths, disruption of family and other social relationships, and costs of increased law enforcement and incarceration.

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