Released on Monday, the report also details record rises in the manufacturing of cocaine, the expansion of synthetic drugs to new markets, and continued gaps in the availability of drug treatments, especially for women.
According to the report, around 284 million people aged 15-64 used drugs worldwide in 2020, a 26 per cent increase over the previous decade.
Young people are using more drugs, with use levels today in many countries higher than with the previous generation.
In Africa and Latin America, people under 35 represent the majority of people being treated for drug use disorders.
Globally, the report estimates that 11.2 million people worldwide were injecting drugs.
Around half of this number were living with hepatitis C, 1.4 million were living with HIV, and 1.2 million were living with both.
"Numbers for the manufacturing and seizures of many illicit drugs are hitting record highs, even as global emergencies are deepening vulnerabilities. At the same time, misperceptions regarding the magnitude of the problem and the associated harms are depriving people of care and treatment and driving young people towards harmful behaviours. We need to devote the necessary resources and attention to addressing every aspect of the world drug problem, including the provision of evidence-based care to all who need it, and we need to improve the knowledge base on how illicit drugs relate to other urgent challenges, such as conflicts and environmental degradation," UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly stated in a press release on Monday.
The report further emphasizes the importance of galvanizing the international community, governments, civil society and all stakeholders to take urgent action to protect people, including by strengthening drug use prevention and treatment and by tackling illicit drug supply.
Cannabis LegalizationAccording to the report, cannabis legalization in North America appears to have increased daily cannabis use, especially potent cannabis products and particularly among young adults.
Associated increases in people with psychiatric disorders, suicides and hospitalizations have also been reported.
Legalization has also increased tax revenues and generally reduced arrest rates for cannabis possession.