The production, trafficking and consumption of most illegal drugs remained steady last year and law enforcement agencies are becoming more successful in their fight against the scourge, according to a United Nations report.
The latest findings should dispel the fears that the World was headed for an epidemic of drug abuse, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said launching the 2007 World Drug Report.
"There is some ground for optimism that the runaway train of drug addiction has slowed down," Costa said, pointing out that the market for nearly all major drugs, including cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamines, either fell or remained stable in 2005-06.
Coca cultivation in the Andes, a major production region, continues to decline, the report found, and global cocaine consumption has also stabilised, although a reduction in the United States has been offset by what UNODC described as an alarming increase in Europe.
The prevalence of amphetamine-type stimulants, such as ecstasy, is also steady or in retreat in many countries, while there has been no rise-- for the first time in decades--in the production or consumption of cannabis.
"The much greater number of pot smokers seeking treatment shows that the new strains of high-potency cannabis make people sick, not high," Costa said, while cautioning that authorities Worldwide cannot afford to ease off in their efforts to restrict or eliminate illicit drug use.