The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2015 World Drug Report shows that — despite billions of dollars spent trying to eradicate illicit crops, seize drug loads, and arrest traffickers — more people than ever before are getting high.

Nationally, drug misuse gives rise to between £10 to £18bn a year in social and economic costs. These include increased levels of crime, blood borne virus infections, depression, unemployment and homelessness. The UNODC conservatively estimated that in 2013 (most recent year which data is available):

  • 246m people worldwide, or 1 in 20 individuals between 15 and 64, used an illicit drug

  • 27m were characterized as "problem drug users"

  • Only one in six of those problem users had access to any sort of addiction treatment



Globalization has led to an explosion of drug trafficking. Airplanes, submarines, speedboats, trucks, tunnels — taken as a whole, the systems used to move illegal drugs around the world comprise a logistics network likely bigger than Amazon, FedEx, and UPS combined. 

Teresa Ulloa, director of the Coalition Against Trafcking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean, says her organisation believes that Mexican drug cartels made $10bn last year from the enforced sexual exploitation and slavery of thousands of girls and women.



The most commonly abused drugs—marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin—also pose some of the biggest threats to the natural world. Cultivating these drugs contributes to deforestation, chemical pollution, water and soil pollution, erosion, excess greenhouse gas emissions, and also poses a threat to human health and wildlife.

The consumption of 1 gram of cocaine implies the destruction of 4m2 of Colombian forest. Estimates from the Colombian government state that the rainforests lost an area greater than the size of the whole nation of Wales to drug production between 1988 and 2008. Experts estimate that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation, equating 50,000 species a year.


References available on request



We're proud to donate all profits to CASA Family Services:

“We were incredibly pleased to be asked to be part of such a dynamic, creative event. To be given the opportunity to promote our service and the impact of addiction on families and friends amongst such a diverse and engaged audience was invaluable. Show of Hands created a space that allowed for dialogue about issues that are often shrouded in discomfort and denial, a space for connection. They manage to bring light to dark subjects with an atmosphere of warmth, welcome and willing. It was a pleasure to be involved and supported by the team and the funds raised will help our service provide resources for family groups, allowing us to reach more families in need of support. We can’t thank them enough!”

Philippa Lewis
Project worker



Annie Shnapp

Antoine Mariont

Barbara Fregosi

Gary Dadd

Jaqcues Viljoen (winner)

Lea Dalissier

Lee Kay-Barry

Luke Lupton

Nial Hergily


Event photography by Claire Trosch