Canada Studies Cost of Drug Use
Posted by Childress on May 29, 2006
The study included tobacco and alcohol, which were found to be far more costly than illegal drugs: tobacco was the most expensive, costing $17 billion for the year studied while alcohol cost $14.6 billion and illegal drugs $8.2 billion. This seems to be a pretty solid argument for keeping illegal drugs illegal, eh?
More on the report:
A report by a national addiction agency says the use of a variety of drugs, legal and illegal, batter [the Canadian] economy and the users of alcohol and tobacco incur the vast majority of total costs. The use of illegal drugs results in about 20 per cent of the total amount.Loss of productivity jumped out at the research team. In 2002, the last year a full study was done, it was estimated at $24.3 billion, followed by $8.8 billion in health care costs. Statistics show that alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs account for 20 per cent of all acute care hospital beds in Canada today. Law enforcement costs of legal and illegal drugs was set at $5.4 billion, which represents roughly half the cost of the entire criminal justice system.
The study, by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, takes into account any cost to society caused by drug use, so it includes a wide range of people, not just hard core addicts.
Jurgen Rhem, the study's principal investigator, said about 80 per cent of people who drink alcohol cause no social cost, but that leaves a large number of people causing huge costs. He said the cost of substance abuse in Canada is significant and is on the rise. A similar study a decade ago set the cost at about half what it is today.
"This is a wake-up call," Rhem said.
The largest component of the cost was linked to disability and premature death, which accounted for 61 per cent of the total. In terms of specific drug costs, tobacco was the most expensive, costing $17 billion for the year studied while alcohol cost us $14.6 billion and illegal drugs a further $8.2 billion. The study did not include the private costs incurred by users of drugs in purchasing them or revenue generated by the purchase of alcohol and tobacco which are heavily taxed by government.