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What America's Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, 2000–2010

What America's Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, 2000–2010

B. Kilmer
S. Everingham
J. Caulkins
G. Midgette
R. Pacula
P. Reuter
R. Burns
B. Han
R. Lundberg
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 123
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  • Book Info
    What America's Users Spend on Illegal Drugs, 2000–2010
    Book Description:

    RAND researchers generated national estimates of consumption of four illicit drugs from 2000 to 2010: cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Throughout the decade, U.S. drug users spent on the order of $100 billion annually on these drugs, although the spending distribution and use patterns changed. For all of the drugs, total consumption and expenditures are driven by the minority of users who consume on 21 or more days each month.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8569-6
    Subjects: Psychology, Political Science, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-i)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ii-iv)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. v-vii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. 1-2)
  5. Executive Summary
    (pp. 3-6)
  6. 1. Illicit Drug Market Estimation
    (pp. 7-14)

    A sense of scale is a prerequisite to thinking sensibly about illicit drug markets. For example, knowing whether a country consumes tens, hundreds, or thousands of metric tons (MTs) of a prohibited substance is critical for understanding the impact of a three-MT seizure at a border crossing. But decisionmakers need more than a sense of scale; they also need figures with enough precision to be able to determine whether the markets have gotten larger or smaller over time.

    Estimating the size of illicit drug markets—whether it be in terms of users, expenditures, or quantity consumed—is a difficult task....

  7. 2. Estimating the Number of Chronic Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine Users
    (pp. 15-29)

    This section presents annual estimates of the number of chronic cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine users in the United States for 2000–2010. To remain consistent with previous studies in this series, we define a chronic user as someone who used a particular drug on four or more days in the previous month. Hence, “chronic” is defined in terms of current frequency of use, not duration of use. Also, if someone used cocaine on three days and heroin on three other days in the previous month (i.e., six days of hard-drug use in the previous month), they would not meet this...

  8. 3. Expenditures on Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine
    (pp. 30-38)

    This chapter generates annual estimates of total spending on cocaine, heroin, and meth for 2000 through 2010. Similar to our estimates of CDUs and the previous version of this report (ONDCP, 2012c), our figures are rooted in ADAM. We present expenditure estimates by user types, highlighting that those who use 21 or more days in the past month account for the majority of spending.

    Here, the focus is on the total amount of cash spent by the final purchaser of the drugs. We do not include the value of drugs for those who did not pay cash (e.g., those who...

  9. 4. Estimating Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine Consumption
    (pp. 39-45)

    The general approach for estimating the pure quantities for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine consumed is to divide national expenditure estimates for each substance by national average price paid per pure gram purchased, with a minor adjustment to account for in-kind (barter) transactions as opposed to cash purchases. The national expenditure estimates for the numerator are presented in Chapter Three. The denominator is generated using purchase value information from ADAM and applying the RAND/Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) method for generating purity-adjusted price information from STRIDE (Arkes, Pacula, Paddock, Caulkins, & Reuter, 2004; Fries et al., 2008). While our approach is generally...

  10. 5. Marijuana
    (pp. 46-65)

    The challenges in estimating market-related quantities for marijuana are quite different than those associated with estimating the same quantities for cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. As such, the approach taken is different than that employed for the other drugs. In particular, the marijuana user estimates are based primarily on NSDUH data, with some adjustments that tap information gleaned from ADAM and other sources. The consumption estimates combine NSDUH data on the number of user days with estimates of how much marijuana users consume on each day they use. The expenditure estimates are then derived from the consumption estimates using a marijuana...

  11. 6. Polydrug Use
    (pp. 66-72)

    Although it is common to hear reference to “cocaine users” or “heroin users,” in truth, many people are polydrug users, meaning they consume more than one substance.19For example, of the 1,823,006 records in the 2010 TEDS-A database on treatment admissions, more than half (1,012,233, or 56 percent) involved a secondary, not just a primary, substance of abuse. Likewise, of the 20.8 million NSDUH respondents reporting use of an illegal drug other than marijuana in the past year, just over half also reported using marijuana. Polydrug use may even be the norm among frequent users; regular heroin and amphetamine users...

  12. 7. Comparing Drug Consumption Estimates with Supply Indicators
    (pp. 73-102)

    Chapters Four and Five present two different approaches for estimating illicit drug consumption.23For marijuana, we multiply use days by the average amount consumed per use day, and then multiply that number by the number of users.24For the other drugs, we divide total expenditures by the average amount spent per pure gram purchased. With both approaches, we describe the uncertainty surrounding these figures, and we attempt to be transparent about the most consequential assumptions that underlie them.

    Table 7.1 presents our middle, lower, and higher consumption estimates. The middle figures could also be termed best estimates. The lower and...

  13. 8. Conclusions
    (pp. 103-105)

    This report presents estimates of the size of the cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine markets in the United States for 2000 through 2010. For each substance, we estimate the total number of CDUs (defined as those using four or more times in the previous month), total weight consumed, and the total amount spent purchasing these substances. Main findings include:

    Drug users in the United States spend on the order of $100 billion annually on cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. While this total figure has been stable over the decade, there have been important compositional shifts. In 2000, much more money...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 106-116)