Illicit Drug Dependence

Authors: Louisa Degenhardt, Emily Stockings, John Strang, Wayne D. Hall


The chapter on illicit drug dependence identifies disease control priorities; patterns of dependence and the disease burden (mortality, morbidity, and societal economic costs); and effective interventions for illicit drug dependence in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), looking specifically at cannabis, amphetamine, and opioid dependence. Illicit drug use contributes to premature mortality and morbidity on a global scale, and the economic costs are substantial. Multiple interventions have been shown to have an impact on illicit drug use and dependence, ranging from preventive interventions with young people to medication-assisted interventions with people who are opioid dependent. Since most of the research on drug dependence, its disease burden, and its societal harm has been conducted in high-income countries (HICs), three sets of issues must be examined to translate the findings into disease control priorities for LMICs: (1) country-specific variations in illicit drug use and disease burden; (2) countries’ health care infrastructure and capacity; and (3) varying cultural attitudes toward drug problems and treatments.


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