COVID Pandemic Fuelling Major Increase in Drug Business Worldwide

COVID Pandemic Fuelling Major Increase in Drug Business Worldwide

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The current COVID-19 pandemic has not only increased the already problematic unemployment, poverty, and mental health rates but also the rates of illicit drugs usage. The low-income countries have shown to be the most affected by these negative side-effects of the pandemic, and the number of people that use drugs is expected to rise in the next few years. But how did the pandemic help fuel a major increase in drug use worldwide, and what is the impact on society? To find out the answers to these questions and more, keep on reading this article.

COVID pandemic fuelling major increase in drug use worldwide - Modern Diplomacy


Compared to the year 2010, there has been a 22% increase in drug consumption in the last year. And while parts of it can be attributed to the 10% increase in the global population, the unprecedented events caused by the pandemic play an important role in this increase. If in 2010 around 27 million people were suffering and battling drug use disorders, the number would have grown to 36 million in 2019. This number represents 0,7% of the total population.

At the same time, the potency of cannabis has increased more than 4 times, while the percentage of teenagers and young adults who were considering it harmful has decreased by around 40%. As the perception of cannabis being dangerous fell, the usage of it increased to a point where hospitals have become unable to cater to the health of those affected. In 2019, only one in eight people was receiving treatment interventions and professional help. The COVID-19 pandemic had only aggravated the situation and inflated these numbers to a never-before-seen point. The UNODC, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, warns that now, more than ever, it is important for countries and their governments to invest in educating people about the hidden dangers and the long-term effects of drugs on people’s health.

Sadly, the statistics for overdoses have also increased. The overdose rate has gone up by 18% in the earlier months of the pandemic. This trend has continued throughout the rest of 2020, most of those overdoses being caused by opiates. Opiate-related mortality has increased throughout the year, especially as people would refuse to go to the hospital, afraid of the virus. There has been no mortality caused by cannabis, but its use has also increased over time.

The Social and Economic Impact of the COVID Pandemic

The pandemic has pushed many people to their limits by bringing about extreme poverty and unemployment rates. The inequalities and the gap between rich and poor have been growing exponentially. The socioeconomic instability brought by the pandemic has led to an increase in mental health problems. To fight the cruel reality of the pandemic and the wait for COVID-19 vaccines, many people turned to the use of drugs. By analyzing the patterns, it has been observed that the most common drugs people were reaching out for were cannabis and non-medical pharmaceutical sedatives. These stressful socioeconomic factors are believed to be an accelerator of the demand for and use of such drugs.

Certain Categories Are More Affected

While drug abuse would increase throughout every category of people, there are still certain individuals who were more at risk. For instance, people with pre-existing mental health problems or habitual users would be even more affected. As the government placed lockdowns everywhere over the world, mental health issues were exacerbated, which led to a feeling of isolation, anxiety, and depression. To cope, these categories of people would turn to drugs.

Those who drank alcohol were also at more risk compared to the average person in lockdown. People with a taste for alcohol consumption would often want relief from unpleasant emotions caused by general life. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, these people would use drugs as a coping strategy. This includes anything from alcohol to weed and other drugs.

Business and Accessibility

At the same time, with the help of the Internet, the industry around drug consumption was quick to recover from the initial losses caused by the lockdowns and restrictions. The growth of online sales with the help of the dark web, cryptocurrency payments, and contactless transactions are just some of the ways that the drug business managed to stay afloat and flourish during these dark times.

Finally, while drugs are costing the lives of millions of people, they are sure to stick around for the foreseeable future. With countries warming to weed and its consumption, alternative products like CBD sports cream can and probably should be promoted instead.


Written by

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling

Alexander Sterling is a renowned financial writer with over 10 years in the finance sector. With a strong economics background, he simplifies complex financial topics for a wide audience. Alexander contributes to top financial platforms and is working on his first book to promote financial independence.

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Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.