While the primary focus of the opioid epidemic currently turning groves of ordinary people into a legion of junkies has been on what’s going down in the United States and Canada, a new report has found that this problem is actually crippling the human condition all across the globe.

The scientific minds at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health recently published a study in the journal World Psychiatry that shows how opioids are killing young people at a near genocidal pace all over the world. It seems that over the past decade, overdose deaths increased by 200 percent in high school and college students living outside the United States.

“Data on high school or university students from the Middle East or Arab world indicate that nonmedical use of prescription drugs warrants closer attention,” said lead author Dr. Silvia Martins, per the Pain News Network. “In Beirut, Lebanon, past-year nonmedical use of any prescription drugs was 21.6 percent among private university students and 10 percent among high school students. In both populations, prescription opioids were the drugs most commonly used nonmedically. In Saudi Arabia, a recent school-based survey showed a lifetime prevalence of 7.2 percent for the nonmedical use of any prescription drug.”

Interestingly, while the abuse of painkillers is causing the demise of youngsters in other countries, there is some evidence that U.S. teens are less interested in getting doped up and self-destructing. A recent Monitoring the Future survey, which is overseen by the University of Michigan and the National Institutes of Health, shows that teenage drug abuse has continued to decline over the years, especially with consideration to painkillers.

Of course, the United States government has taken full credit for this positive progression.

“Clearly our public health prevention efforts, as well as policy changes to reduce availability, are working to reduce teen drug use,” said Nora Volkow, director of National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It is still frightening, however, that the abuse of prescription painkillers has found its way into the veins of the Earth and is rapidly spreading its vicious disease. Researchers say this is happening in part due to the same reasons opioids continue to run rampant in the U.S.—availability of these kinds of drugs has increased, and people are simply under the impression that they are safe because they are prescribed by a doctor.

“The biggest challenge is balancing a country’s need to make available prescription drugs to those in need (i.e., those with chronic pain), while simultaneously curbing diversion and nonmedical use,” Martins said. “Another challenge is controlling the top most reported sources of supply, including parents, doctors and friends.”

Meanwhile, marijuana remains illegal in almost every country on the planet. Research has shown that cannabis could be a tool in repairing the damage from opioid addiction, but global officials seem mostly unenthused about taking action to release the herb from the constraints of international law.

Related: Can Cannabis Rescue the Opioid Overdose Epidemic in 2017?

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