Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in North America
Costs and Consequences of Drug abuse in North America

Poison control centre statistics for 1986 report 15,442 cases of drug poisonings by psychotherapeutic agents, sedatives and hypnotics, ASA (acetylsalicylic acid, e.g., Aspirin), acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol), street drugs, and glues and adhesives (HWC in press)

            In 1988, there were 414 deaths reported from drug dependence, non-dependent abuse of drugs, and adverse toxic effects of psychotropic drugs (HWC in press).

            In 1988/89, there were 481 admissions for drug-related offence to Canadian federal penitentiaries (which hold prisoners sentenced to a term of two years or more) and another 6,211 admissions to provincial/territorial adult correctional institutions (which hold prisoners sentenced to a term of less than two years) (HWC in press).


In 1991, there was an increase in the number of drug-related deaths. Most of the deaths reported to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) involved either cocaine use (46 per cent) or heroin (36 per cent). Many of these deaths (13 per cent) involved the use of cocaine and heroin in a combination known as "speedballing". Alcohol was a factor in 37 per cent of the drug-related deaths reported to DAWN, although this includes cases where illicit drugs were also involved. Males accounted for most of the drug-related deaths, while about half of the drug-related emergency room episodes involved females (U.N. 1992).

            DAWN data for the first 3 quarters of 1992 show that in comparison to the first 3 quarters of 1991, heroin-related emergency room visits increased by 25 per cent and cocaine related visits increased by 16 per cent. In general, there was a 7 per cent increase in drug-related emergency rooms episodes (U.N. 1992).

            The percentages of AIDS cases associated with IV drug abuse has been increasing. In some areas of the Unites States, such as the states of New York and New Jersey, IV drug abusers have become the main AIDS risk group (PAHO 1990).

            The costs of drug abuse (excluding alcohol) in 1988 were as high as US$58.4 billion (OSAP 1991).