The Most Drugged-Out Countries

Globe Trippin'

We’ve been curious for a while about the drugging and drinking habits of other countries. How does America compare to the rest of the world? Do people in the Far East and Africa drink and smoke as much or more than we do? And which countries are more likely to do harder drugs? So we scoured through various studies in order to find an answer to the question, which countries that do the most drugs. Photo Credit: Bistrosavage


Methodology

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a comprehensive report back in 2008 about the drug habits of 17 countries across four continents. To get their statistics, the WHO surveyed more than 85,000 people worldwide, asking a series of questions to determine how much of the population had ever used alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and cocaine. To be clear, these stats do not show how many people in each country consume these drugs on a regular basis. Instead, they paint a picture of the percentage of the population that has sampled these drugs at least once. We have blended the poll results for each of these four drugs, weighing them all equally, to determine which country has the highest overall percentage of citizens who confess to using drugs in their lifetime. Photo Credit: Dwonderwall


Shocking Stats

According to the survey, men were more likely than women to use all types of drugs (for now). On top of that, the toughness of the country’s drug policies had little relation to the number of people who confessed to using these drugs. And here’s another interesting cocktail fact: “Marital status was found to be linked only to illegal drug use—the use of cocaine and cannabis is more likely in people who have never been married or were previously married.” So I guess that’s one reason you find someone to love and stick with them. Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography


Nigeria

Nigeria had by far the fewest smokers of any country polled and the second fewest citizens who confessed to drinking alcohol. Still, drug trafficking, particularly cannabis, remains a big problem in Nigeria largely due to poverty and unemployment. Percent who drink alcohol: 57.4 Percent who smoke tobacco: 16.8 Percent who smoke cannabis: 2.7 Percent who use cocaine: 0.1


South Africa

Apparently South Africa is a very sober place to live. Less than half of those surveyed admitted to drinking alcohol, the lowest of any country on the list. But that’s probably for the best though, because when South Africans drink, they really go overboard. According to one Frontline report, nearly a third of all hospital visits in the country are due to alcohol related causes. Percent who drink alcohol: 40.6 Percent who smoke tobacco: 31.9 Percent who smoke cannabis: 8.4 Percent who use cocaine: 0.7


Israel

A little more than the tenth of those surveyed confessed to smoking cannabis, but from what we’ve heard, this is an especially bad idea in Israel. Not because of religious or cultural restrictions (though I’m sure that’s an issue as well), but because the cannabis itself is very shady. One source, who shall remain anonymous, has said that many Israelis rely on Bedouins (Arab nomads) to get their supply and it is often filled with sand. Percent who drink alcohol: 58.3 Percent who smoke tobacco: 47.9 Percent who smoke cannabis: 11.5 Percent who use cocaine: 0.9


China

China had the lowest rate of cannabis and cocaine use of any country on this list. It probably doesn’t hurt that China has been known to execute people who traffic drugs in the country. They do, however, love their alcohol and tobacco. Percent who drink alcohol: 65.4 Percent who smoke tobacco: 53.1 Percent who smoke cannabis: 0.3 Percent who use cocaine: 0


Lebanon

Lebanon reported lower drug consumption than most countries, but the Lebanese do have a soft spot for tobacco and cannabis. This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise though since Lebanon, and much of the middle east, is known for producing and consuming hashish. In fact, Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley is famous (or infamous) for growing and distributing hashish and opium. Percent who drink alcohol: 53.3 Percent who smoke tobacco: 67.4 Percent who smoke cannabis: 4.6 Percent who use cocaine: 0.7


Italy

Nearly three quarters of Italians surveyed claimed to drink alcohol, which is substantially more than the previous countries on this list, though nothing compared to some of the countries to come. Italy, like many European countries, is very lax when it comes alcohol laws, as many Italians start drinking at a much younger age than here in the U.S. Last year, some venues in the country stopped serving minors and took other measures to reduce Italy’s alcoholism rate. Percent who drink alcohol: 73.5 Percent who smoke tobacco: 48 Percent who smoke cannabis: 6.6 Percent who use cocaine: 1.0


Japan

Japan’s alcohol and tobacco consumption rates are comparable to many Western countries, but their cannabis and cocaine use is much lower. As the Wall Street Journal noted last year, “While Japan has been known for its tolerance of cigarette smoking and public drunkenness, the nation has long had some of the strictest laws against marijuana-related offenses.” This led to thousands of arrests in 2008 for “alleged marijuana use.” Percent who drink alcohol: 89.1 Percent who smoke tobacco: 48.6 Percent who smoke cannabis: 1.5 Percent who use cocaine: 0.3


Belgium

It’s no surprise that more people in this country drink alcohol given that they brew some of the best beers in the world. That’s also why the country held its breath earlier this year when Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company, announced they were cutting jobs, sparking protests that threatened beer supplies throughout the country. Percent who drink alcohol: 91.1 Percent who smoke tobacco: 49 Percent who smoke cannabis: 10.4 Percent who use cocaine: 1.5


Colombia

In addition to having a high rate of alcohol consumption, Colombia also has one of the highest rates of cocaine consumption (not a huge shock given the country has long been considered the leading producer of cocaine). Even after all the largest drug lords were assassinated or put in prison a couple years ago, the cocaine industry continued to boom. Percent who drink alcohol: 94.3 Percent who smoke tobacco: 48.1 Percent who smoke cannabis: 10.8 Percent who use cocaine: 4


Mexico

Mexico has one of the highest rates of tobacco usage, but their bigger problem may be hard drugs. Last year, Mexico decriminalized the use of cocaine, LSD, and heroin. (Marijuana was already decriminalized.) But even before that, many Mexicans were clearly diving into these drugs, as the WHO survey shows. Plus, Mexico is the biggest entry point of illicit drugs into the U.S. and is in the midst of ultra-violent and widespread cartel wars. Percent who drink alcohol: 85.9 Percent who smoke tobacco: 60.2 Percent who smoke cannabis: 7.8 Percent who use cocaine: 4


Spain

Just call Spain the party capital of Europe. In 2008, the country became Europe’s top cocaine user. Then again, Spain is also one of the countries in which workers get the most vacation time – 36 days in total – so they certainly have a lot of time on their hands to party. Percent who drink alcohol: 86.4 Percent who smoke tobacco: 53.1 Percent who smoke cannabis: 15.9 Percent who use cocaine: 4.1


France

Like most Western European countries, the culture of drinking and smoking in France is more liberal than it is here in America or elsewhere in the world. But leave it to the French to benefit from their vices. For years, there has been a theory that the French live longer, healthier lives not despite but because of the amount of red wine they drink. Recently, researchers seem to be moving away from this, but that doesn’t change the fact that the French can drink and smoke and still look better than most Americans. Percent who drink alcohol: 91.3 Percent who smoke tobacco: 48.3 Percent who smoke cannabis: 19 Percent who use cocaine: 1.5


Ukraine

More people in the Ukraine confessed to drinking than any other country surveyed. In another WHO survey, Ukraine was found to have the most underage drinkers in the world. And according to one source, more than 40,000 Ukrainians die of from alcohol-related reasons each year. Percent who drink alcohol: 97 Percent who smoke tobacco: 60.6 Percent who smoke cannabis: 6.4 Percent who use cocaine: 0.1


Germany

Germany is a country that knows the meaning of drunkenness, with large beer glasses and larger beer festivals. But this country has also been overwhelmed by public drunkenness, an embarrassing and complicated issue on which they have tried to crack down. Percent who drink alcohol: 95.3 Percent who smoke tobacco: 51.9 Percent who smoke cannabis: 17.5 Percent who use cocaine: 1.9


Netherlands

This is one country that has a reputation which precedes it. We all know the Netherlands as a place of debauchery, where prostitution flourishes and drugs are easily come by. So it may actually sound surprising that just 1 of every 5 people surveyed admitted to using cannabis (though that’s still much higher than most countries.) But the truth is that despite the fact that drug use and sales are tolerated in this country, it’s largely tourists who engage in this behavior. Percent who drink alcohol: 93.3 Percent who smoke tobacco: 58 Percent who smoke cannabis: 19.8 Percent who use cocaine: 1.9


New Zealand

New Zealand had the second highest percentage of people who admit to smoking cannabis and using cocaine, losing out to the final country on our list. But cannabis isn’t New Zealand’s only vice. Alcohol consumption has been on the rise here for the last couple years, worrying public officials. Apparently, one menace the country faces is the phenomenon of pre-mixed drinks, which “mask” the taste of alcohol, but which are very popular with young New Zealanders. Percent who drink alcohol: 94.8 Percent who smoke tobacco: 51.3 Percent who smoke cannabis: 41.9 Percent who use cocaine: 4.3


The United States

Hey, what do you know, we’re the winners! Oh wait, that’s probably not something to celebrate, is it? We topped out in three of the four categories. Though we have strict laws that might make you think otherwise, Americans love their drugs. Nearly half of those surveys admitted smoking cannabis. One factor, according to the WHO, is that wealthier countries are more likely to do these drugs. Meanwhile, the percentage of people who confessed to using cocaine was four times the amount of those in New Zealand, the second most. In fact, cocaine is so prevalent in the United States that you are even likely to find traces of it on your money. We’re not kidding. The only category we did not win was alcohol consumption. I think Utah brought us down. Percent who drink alcohol: 91.6 Percent who smoke tobacco: 73.6 Percent who smoke cannabis: 42.4 Percent who use cocaine: 16.2


The Drunkest States

So now we know that America can drink (and smoke) the rest of the world under the table, for better or worse. But if you're curious to see which states in America are responsible for consuming the most alcohol, check out our list of the Drunkest States. Photo Credit: wickenden


Tweet alongside us

Wait! If you haven't already, now is a great time to follow us on Twitter. You'll get all of our most important stories, right as they publish. Follow us: twitter.com/mainstr Photo Credit: Mixy


Show Comments

Back to Top