Ninety countries provided information on the expert section – which is the minimum information provided on the Annual Reports Questionnaire. The response rate from the Americas, Europe and Australia was fairly high. Many countries in Asia and the Middle East provided partial responses. However, countries in Africa and Pacific Islands provided very little. In terms of prevalence data, there are gaps in cocaine and amphetamine data in Asia and Africa. For example, UNODC has limited information on the effect of trafficking through West Africa on usage patterns because of this lack of information. Despite a sharp decrease in cocaine use in North America it is still higher than in some other regions.
This type of qualitative information and expert perception has limitations. This kind of ‘soft information’ may not drive policy but it can highlight some problems. In terms of countries not people, there are a higher number of countries reporting an increase in the use of drugs than those reporting a decrease. In 2007 is was estimated drug users are estimated to be between 172-million to 250-million. Exact figures are difficult to track but the UNODC is trying to provide a range. Problematic drug users range between 18-million to 38-million people. The higher number of users is of cannabis followed by ATS, ecstasy and then opium and cocaine. There are much bigger ranges of cannabis and ATS usage reflecting the gaps in knowledge.
What about trends? Though it is only an expert perception it can point to countries or region that might require follow-up. For example, what it shows is that there is an increase in cannabis use in some regions like Russia, Central Asia and Africa. Treatment data can highlight problems. In the Americas a lot of problems are cocaine related. There is also a high prevalence of cannabis use in Latin America. Globally, though fewer users are being admitted for opiates there is a rise in ATS.