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UN Says Amphetamine-Type Stimulants Second Most Commonly Abused Drugs

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Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) such as Ecstasy and methamphetamines are second only to marijuana as the top drugs of abuse worldwide, according to a United Nations report. The 2011 Global ATS Assessment states that the number of methamphetamine pills seized in southeast Asia jumped from 32 million in 2008, to 133 million in 2010.

Police seizures of heroin, cocaine and marijuana held steady between 2005 and 2009, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which released the report.

“The ATS market has evolved from a cottage-type industry typified by small-scale manufacturing operations to more of a cocaine or heroin-type market with a higher level of integration and organized crime groups involved throughout the production and supply chain,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in a news release.

The report notes West African countries have started to manufacture ATS, and Central and South American countries are reporting an increase in ATS manufacturing, Reuters reports. The drugs are affordable and relatively easy to make, making them a popular choice for millions of people around the world, according to the report.

“Bath salts” are new stimulants that are becoming increasingly popular and available on the Internet, according to the report. These drugs fall outside of international controls, the report points out.

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