Study reveals extent of Australian drug culture

But it is not alone. The UK, US, South Africa and Russia also have major habits and high levels of illness and death caused by drugs.

On a regional level, Australasia has the highest rate of opioid and cannabis dependence and only Southeast Asia is higher for amphetamines.

The US and Latin America have the worst cocaine problem, according to the research, which is part of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 published in The Lancet.

The study, led by Professor Louisa Degenhardt from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, is the first to analyse the global health burden caused by the four drug groups.

It estimates that 52 million people are dependent on the drugs and shows opioid dependence is the biggest killer and cause of disability of the four.

Young men in high-income countries are by far the most vulnerable, according to the report.

"Our results clearly