Sizing National Heroin Markets in the EU

Insights from Self-Reported Expenditures in the Czech Republic and England

Published in: Further Insights into Aspects of the Illicit EU Drugs Market / Franz Trautmann, Beau Kilmer, Paul Turnbull (eds.) (Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013.), Part I, Report 3.2, p. 257-269

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Beau Kilmer, Jirka Taylor, Priscillia Hunt, Peter McGee

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After alcohol, heroin consumption causes more social harm than any other intoxicating substance in Europe. Knowing the approximate size of the heroin market is important for making realistic projections about policy interventions as well as estimating the amount of money being earned by criminal organizations. Since users' quantity estimates can be unreliable, this report uses data about PHUs and estimates of weekly heroin expenditures in the Czech Republic and England to calculate the size and the volume of the market for these two countries, building on existing knowledge on quantity discounts to arrive at more reliable estimates. Previous estimates from Paoli, et al. (2009) suggest the typical PHU in Europe consumes 30 pure grams annually; roughly half the amount assumed by the UNODC (2005; 58 grams). Our calculations are consistent with a benchmark that is closer to 30 pure grams per year; however, there is likely variation in this value within countries, across countries, and over time.

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