Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Asia
Costs and Consequences of Drug Abuse in the Pacific Region


Drug abuse represent a societal cost in the form of prevention and treatment servic­es, loss of productivity due to sickness or death, loss of property due to crime, law en­forcement and accidents. Australia estimates that the overall costs related to licit and illicit drug abuse exceeds 14 billion dollars (or 4.6 of GDP) per year; one and a half billion dollars is attributed to illicit drug abuse. These costs "exceeded the increase in revenues from extra taxes by $623 million" (Collins, D. J. et al. 1991).

It is estimated that about 20 per cent of all annual deaths in Australia are attributed to drug (any drug) abuse, that is 25,524 cases in 1990. About three per cent (or 765) are due to illicit drug abuse, including two per cent (or 457) to opiates (mainly heroin), compared to 71 per cent attributed to tobacco and 26 per cent to alcohol (Department of Health 1992; Armstrong, B. K. et al. 1988).

In general, drug caused deaths are more prevalent among males and the young; among the 15 to 34 age group: about one death in three is drug related. It is estimated that opiates account for 23 per cent of drug related deaths among this group (Department of Health 1992; Armstrong, B. K. et al. 1988).

It is difficult to measure the contribution of drug abuse to illnesses. Australia is developing a measure based on the estimated number of admissions to hospitals "due to drug caused conditions" (Department of Health 1992).

The number of known AIDS deaths amongst injecting drug abusers cumulative to 31 December 1991 was 70, or almost 4 per cent of the 1,952 AIDS deaths recorded. The prevalence of AIDS cases reported amongst injecting drug abusers was almost 5 per cent (Department of Health 1992).


Serious traffic accidents, gang activities, breakdown of traditional social structures and increase in urbanization are reported linked with drug abuse. Alcohol abuse is reported to contribute to violence, sex crimes, burglary, and robbery (Fiji 1993).


The cultivation of cannabis by families is reported to have become a source of income. The number of deaths resulting from drug abuse is reported not known (U.N. 1990).


No information reported by 31st December 1993.


No deaths related to drug abuse were reported for the year 1986 (U.N. 1986).


Drug-related offences were judged to be the most serious offences for 5 per cent of all prisoners in 1980 and 8 per cent in 1990. The recorded drug offence rate and the recorded offender report rate have risen steadily since 1981 (New Zealand 1992).

In 1989, 78 drug-related deaths were reported. About 3 per cent of all notified AIDS cases are attributed to injecting drug abusers (U.N. 1992).

The rate of admissions to psychiatric hospitals for drug-related disorders increased substantially between 1981 and 1988. Persons aged 20-29 years made up over half of the admissions (New Zealand 1992).

It is reported that NZ$ 30 million is spent each year for treatment of alcohol and drug abusers (in-patients only) (U.N. 1992).


An estimated 80,000 people are reported engaged in cultivation and trafficking of cannabis (DETPR 1993). Organized crime behind the drug trade in Papua New Guinea and the exchange of drugs for fire arms is reported to be of growing concern (HONLEA 1993).

The abuse of drugs is reported to be closely linked with violent crimes (Papua New Guinea 1993).


No information reported by 31st December 1993.


No information reported by 31st December 1993.


Some of the increase in crime rate, auto accident deaths, suicide and delinquency are attributed to drug abuse (Samoa 1993).