How Much Do Americans Really Spend on Drugs Each Year?

The consequences of drug use in our communities are important to measure so that we can better understand both the scope of the problem and the scale of response required. Drug problems intersect with, and contribute to, many challenges our Nation faces. 

Challenges like school failure, poverty, mental illness, criminal activity, and a wide array of health problems associated with substance use disorders. A new report we’re making available today provides some additional information that helps provide a clearer picture of the impact of drug use and its consequences on America. 

According to this new study, drug users in the United States spent approximately $100 billion annually over the past decade on illicit drugs. This study updates several previous reports (beginning in 1995) which estimated drug trends back to 1988.  

Notably, from 2000 to 2010, the amount people spent on cocaine dropped by half from $55 billion to $28 billion, reflecting dramatic decreases in the availability of cocaine after 2006: from approximately 300 pure metric tons in 2000 to about 150 pure metric tons in 2010.

The amount of money illicit drug use costs taxpayers, however, far exceeds the amount users spent on illicit drugs.  In 2007 alone, illicit drug use cost taxpayers more than $193 billion in lost productivity, healthcare, and criminal justice costs.

Read the full report.

Terry Zobeck is the Associate Director of Research and Data analysis at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. 

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